I heard radio announcers say earlier this week that Monday was supposed to be the lowest emotional day of the winter. Christmas is over, credit card bills are arriving in mailboxes, the days are short, the sky is gray, and spring is still months away. I don't usually suffer from the winter blues given my rather obsessive appreciation of the seasons, but January caught up to me this week.
In weeks previous, I've had plenty to keep me occupied, friends from college visiting, Owl City songs, and discovering a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe being the chief pleasures. However, reality started to catch up to me this week. Two of my housemates are moving out in the next couple weeks and we don't have new housemates lined up (partly due to my neglient procrastination). This certainly brings an increased financial burden; however, it's the lack of companionship I'm particularly mourning this week. One housemate especially has been a good friend for over five years and made my transition to Whitworth as a freshman infinitely easier and more fun. I pondered this reality--the soon-to-be lack of companionship reality--as I walked to my car after work this week under a steel-gray sky.
On Thursday night, I came home from work feeling noticeably tired. The rest of the week, I had been taking walks in the evenings around the neighborhood, but I simply didn't want to walk on Thursday evening. Instead, I ate my leftover Caramelized Red Onion, Prosiutto, and Goat Cheese pizza and watched Northanger Abbey. On Friday, I was home by 3:30 PM and knew I needed to take a walk to take advantage of the daylight. I hadn't had anything planned outside of work this week, which was refreshing for the introvert in me, but I was getting to be a little too introspective for my own good. I needed a fresh perspective on life and walking seems to be good for that.
I called my parents, to whom I often speak when on walks, but they were about to go out for a walk themselves. I wavered briefly in my resolve, but shook off my hesitation, jammed my feet into my boots and set off. In the daylight, I love walking in the large, hilly, open space behind Whitworth known as the Back 40. I trudged through the snow at the beginning of the walk, disgruntled and sulky. But the more I walked and breathed in the vibrant fresh air, the more relaxed I became. The open space of the Back 40, uncluttered by houses and trees, the nippy air, the crunching snow all did something to untangle my thoughts and soothe my rumpled spirit.
The funny thing about walking by myself is that I seldom think about anything profound. I don't usually have epiphanies about personal problems or take advantage of the time to pray for friends and family as they come to mind. Walking is a way to just be. In fact, the only epiphanies I usually have involve God.
I walked farther yesterday than I have in a while. I walked up the hill to Whitworth, through the campus, and came back down the other side of the Back 40, a distance of two miles. On my way across the upper Back 40 to start my descent into the neighborhood, I was suddenly struck by the difference in perspective from the top of the hill. The slushy mess of snow on the streets below faded, and I could even see a hint of blue sky. At the time, I didn't connect my walk to any spiritual revelation, but as I think back on it now, it seems that the change in perspective from the top of the hill was most striking because I could see more clearly where I had been before on my walk.
In the midst of the grayness of January and the unsettled roommate situation, my walk gave me a gift. It gave me the perspective to see that I have the choice to trust that at some point in the future, I will be able to see from the mountaintop what I couldn't see in the valley. This perspective, while it doesn't make me particularly happy or change the reality of my situation, does give me hope. And hope is a wonderful thing to have in the slushy cold of January.