In most classes the average student takes, there is little room for free thought. Free thought is not the same as having control on an art project or a creative writing piece. Free thought is being inspired by the elements of your environment, and letting your mind run with questions and ideas that cannot be explained. So often we, as students, are asked to barf out information in thesis papers and book reports. This will drive you mad if you think about it for long enough.
Children hate writing now because writing for school is all they do. It is not easy to sit down and create coherent, original thoughts. Gone are the days of sitting outside until dark simply watching a sunset, free of distractions, or taking a second to notice how a field of grass looks when you lie down and change your perspective. I know a vast majority of people do not take advantage of these small moments, but I will try to take you to this kind of experience, and put some inspiration into your life.
You open your eyes and draped on the forest floor is a fresh layer of untouched, bright snow. It is brilliantly laid out before you, and the whiteness hurts your eyes. You wake after having fallen asleep under the dark shadows from the ancient oak trees, which had provided you initially with the shade that lulled you to sleep on this cold November day.
The trees have taken on a deep darkness with the coming of winter that contrast, almost blindingly, against the radiant whiteness of this new landscape. Snow now has layered itself on your pants and jacket. It is like a blanket has been wrapped around you by your mother while you slumbered on in in your bed in the dead of night.
You are sitting on a fallen tree, with your back propped against a locust tree. Your arms are crossed against your chest as you take shallow breaths. You do not dare move them to wipe the sleepiness from your eyes. The world feels so pure that to tamper with this kind of art that nature has created would ruin this moment that has become so rare for you.
When you look up you notice the snow is still falling, but not like in a storm. It falls with more delicacy than you have ever seen before. It feels like you have been placed in a movie, and that this is a genuinely beautiful moment. You don’t feel the coldness, because you are too focused on every detail of this new, angelic world you have entered from the dark, brown, unfeeling one you left moments ago.
Everything is still, nothing moves, and the wind does not buffet this deep into the woods. The squirrels that routinely scurry across the dried leaves at the bases of the trees have all returned to their hollowed-out homes in various spots, undiscovered by man.
The woods do not whisper to you, as you have been told by some. Instead, they strike you with their silence. The nothingness of this place, void of human life, or any life other than the evergreens, touches you more than a song, or a book, or any other artificial experience ever could.
As you look around, you notice things you pass by on a snowy day in your hometown. How, when a snowflake touches your skin, it only lingers for a few seconds. You think how that could be a deep metaphor, if you thought long enough about such things.
Now think about how many experiences you have had that latched on to your memory. Ones that stick with you today. If you have one that is a genuinely beautiful experience, completely spontaneous and thought-provoking, hold on to it. Are there moments you have had that you might have simply passed up because of distractions in modern life? Why go outside when a TV show can numb you into submission? Why feel, when it is so easy and comfortable to surrender? These are the kinds of questions to ask yourself, and help drag yourself back into the real word. The synthetic world that presses itself onto our population does not promote thought, and living means you have to have new, heart-stirring, unfamiliar experiences.
It is hard to explain an experience and word it in a way that does justice to the event itself. That means, as the reader, you have to go out and live it. Living vicariously through a band, or video maker, or writer, is no life at all. Someone who only experiences things secondhand may gain knowledge and wisdom, but won’t have a unique experience to appreciate. You must use other people’s experiences as fuel for your quest to have a fulfilling journey through the world. Do not live life by always trying to be comfortable. Live life in action. Gifts that are never utilized go to waste. Do you want to think of your life as a waste, or even worse, not being able to tell if you took advantage of the infinite inspiration in the world?
Sitting alone should never be boring or be a punishment. It should be an opportunity to observe the overwhelming creation around you. Soon, many high schoolers will leave their safety nets and be exposed to loneliness and depression. The cure for both of these are inspiration and experience. Taking an hour out of a busy day is a small calling to complete for the heaping amount of goodness it will do for your soul. Going to the woods and witnessing the snowfall, or some other seemingly trivial event, will provide powerful insight. In order to appreciate it, however, you have to be open to this brutally simple inspiration.
Inspiring acts hit hard. It is easy to think of movies and books that have pushed you to think. Experiences of your own are much rarer. It is my plea to all to live a bountiful, exciting life of your own, and to think and be inspired by simple things, like the falling of a snowflake.