These past few days one of the most common concerns has been how to describe Chewonki to an ‘outsider.’ And I figured I would take a shot at beginning to describe the transformation, that I know I, at least, have experienced… and I thought that it would be fitting to end this semester just as this experience began for us.
I believe that the further you remove yourself from the world, the better you are able to see it. Going up to the barn today to take a picture of the sunset was quite possibly one of my favorite decisions I’ve made here, not because of the view looking out, but because of what I saw looking down. I saw melting snow, freshly hung wreaths, Tyler and Walker walk into the woods with a candle, and other members of the faculty walking along the boardwalk to get from point A to point B. The most overwhelming observation, though, was in the snow. The most heavily traveled path is the one from the Allen to the cabins, then the farmhouse to the Wallace, Allen to Wallace, road to barn – and YES! people really do go over that small bit of grass to save them the 3 feet that it would take to walk the boardwalk; farmhouse to allen and then there are always those little footprints in between. Look at what we do! Even with so little time left to the semester, we still choose efficiency and ease over scenic and more ‘grass-friendly’ [if you will]. And the way I see it, this pattern is pretty similar to the way we can live our lives after all this. We can leave a trail behind us- out of ease- or we can use the boardwalks, take a little more time, but we won’t leave a single footprint behind. Chewonki has allowed me the chance to see that every corner I cut has an impact. Every light I leave on leaves more energy for me to make up later (thanks hubes)! Every bite of food uneaten leaves more leftovers to be composted in a few hours. Every coffee mug left in the Ellis room leaves that much more work for that chore the following morning. And every footprint across the quad has left its mark. I feel so fortunate to have been removed from ‘the real world’ for this short time because I have been able to see the small scale cause and effect cycles that ensue when I start to get a little lazy. Now, going back, I have a new perspective. I have looked at the fast world that we usually live in from the outside and now I can go back and join in, changing all the smaller things that I have seen make a negative impact. Standing up in the barn, Eloise came next to me, and said “I love that we can observe what goes on up here, but we always have the opportunity to join in as well.” That’s what I plan on doing going back- putting in that little bit more of effort to follow the path that has been left to me, rather than plowing through to make a new one of my own. A man I greatly look up to, and hope to aspire to become, once said something that I think encompasses what I have learned here. As Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore once said “If the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort.”[p. 724 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire]