by Denning, AP'18

One element of a participation in arête is the opportunity to re-pattern the ways in which we live and think during these two months. One of the forms this has taken for me is become fascinated with trail running. By using this new practice to explore, take time to myself and share time with others, I have grown a particular familiarity with place and people here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I’m thinking of specific interactions:

I’m remembering a quartz, river, stepping-stone that I’ve come to love. It’s milky orange coloured and I imagine it lighting a brighter orange as each person’s foot presses off of it onto the mossy bank. Or, lying in the river after a run, every cell breathing and blood beating all over and the cold mountain water rushing past hot cheeks and suddenly feeling able to play, to pretend to be a hippo or a croc or a frog. Or, noticing the lines behind knees, the gentle looking ‘H’ shaped creases. Shy and soft parts of the body that back its biggest muscles. And thinking these lines look slightly out of place on everyone and that, somehow, they elicit a more tender reconsideration of the whole person.

I’m thinking of these new ways of becoming familiar with place and people as striking off new neuron pathways through my mind. And as these moments pattern my experience, it occurs to me that it is meaningful that being here is actively building new sets of brain pathways. That the way we treat each other, and talk to one another and hold, see, and feel the fabric of the day will have a physical manifestation through the way our neural pathways will deepen, connect and reach into new configurations of brain space over this summer.

Denning is a member of the 2018 Blue Ridge Session cohort. She studies at the University of St. Andrews, where she majors in English Literature.