October 7, 2015
There is something truly liberating about physically removing yourself. It extracts you from a perfunctory lifestyle and forces you to see everything with fresh eyes.
I would say that, on average, I change my scenery four times throughout the week: I go to class, I go to my internship, I go to work, and I go to my apartment. The next day, I repeat. It is a simple routine, but it’s also very difficult to break from. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy what I do on a daily basis, but it becomes very easy to get too wrapped up in the responsibilities of my four (class, internship, work, apartment) little worlds, and I find myself feeling a bit claustrophobic.
I decided to catch my breath and relocate to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Simple as that.
For those who have never visited the arboretum, it is a part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences. Tucked away right off Highway 5, the arboretum holds a collection of natural areas and gardens on 1,215 acres of land. Currently, they are working on a Nature-Based Therapeutics initiative with the Center for Spirituality and Healing. One of their programs taking place during the month of October is called Nature Heals 30×30. It is a month long challenge to spend at least 30 minutes out in nature every day. In fact, the program is hosting daily nature and wellness activities at its base camp every day right on the plaza of the Weisman Art Museum.
So this past Saturday, I got into the car and drove off eager to cut myself off from time and work.
I mean, sort of, because I had to go to work that evening, so I had to enjoy my “timeless afternoon” with a deadline. It was my first visit to the arboretum, and I was hoping to find a space remote from the urban life of Minneapolis.
When I arrived, I realized I may have over-romanticized my visit. The space was beautiful, but I just happened to come on a day when it seemed like all of Minneapolis (and a wedding party) had decided to come to the arboretum, too. With limited time, I set off to find an unbeaten path as soon as possible only to find myself bumping into parking lots, buildings, construction sites, and people while impatiently looking for the perfect environment to relax in. I had to leave for work soon, and I started to feel claustrophobic again.
Then it hit me: I had such a fixed assumption of what would relax me, that I wasn’t even paying attention to what I was surrounded by. I was still latched on to a mindset that was based on planning and expectations-the mindset that I was trying to escape. In order to genuinely withdraw myself, I had to relocate my mind, too.
With only 25 minutes left to spend in the arboretum, I stopped searching mindlessly and simply engaged in what I was seeing in the present moment. Time stopped for me, and before I knew it, I stumbled across a gorgeous pathway by a lake and wooded area. Simple as that.
As I set off back towards Minneapolis to begin my shift at work, the late October afternoon cast a serene ambience over the city skyline. As the car approached downtown, my head was empty of anything worth sulking or stressing about. Why would I waste my limited time in the day filling my head with things to distract me from really appreciating the beautiful city I live in or the fortunate life that I have? I hope that if I ever find myself falling into that line of thinking, I’ll know now to relocate myself.