14 Things I Learned In The West
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

14 Things I Learned In The West

14 Things I Learned In The West
Maribeth Van Hecke

Fall semester of my junior year, I was at the Oregon Extension, a non-traditional semester in the Cascade Mountains. The following are things I learned either from the West, travel, living intentionally, or living off the grid.

1. You don’t (always) have to take your backpack off to pee. (What!) Think about it. I learned this backpacking with 40 pounds on my back—something you didn’t really want to take on and off all day. I’m just saying.

2. Color. When you travel, color changes. The foliage holds different shades of green, yellow, red, even brown. Picture the colors used in a Mediterranean painting compared to one of the American dessert. The pinks are different. It’s because they are different.

3. Trails aren’t always marked in the West. They’re just not. To them, putting trail markers in the wilderness is as good as littering. So if your plan is to hike up boulders to reach the top of the mountain, you better have a good sense of direction.

4. Dichotomies are incredibly dangerous: masculine/feminine, introvert/extrovert, classic/romantic mind/body, and so on. To function, we need both extremes. Go back to the rural vs. urban. We need both places to function. Neither is better, objectively. They need to know how to work together on a spectrum. This concept is larger than this list.

5. Silence is healing. Allowing yourself to observe, walk, move through space without the need to speak is freeing. Do things alone. Be silent. It fills spaces.

6. Quality grocery stores are life altering. I think we forget how colossally important food stores are. They distribute life! Okay, maybe that's exaggerating, but once you have to drive 45 minutes down a mountain to get to the store, you’ll realize what I’m talking about.

7. Similarly, the urban needs the rural as much as the rural needs the urban. This was a hard one to come to terms with, but there is no such thing as self-sustainability. (Nut-uh!) Ya-huh. Even Thoreau had someone doing his laundry.

8. I am now openly addicted to caffeine.

9. Passion is like a wood burning stove. Unless you are tending to it, it might go out without your realizing it.

10. Splitting wood is meditative and wonderful. I don’t have anything else to say about it.

11. I don’t need to wear push-up bras. As people who are bombarded with sexual images in advertisements and media, we feel the pressure to meet them (in sexy bras and panties). This is unhealthy and uncomfortable and constricting, and as unhealthy, uncomfortable, and constricting as the padded bras themselves. Women should not obtain attention through sexual power. This concept is larger than this list.

12. Fall is my favorite season. In the high desert in Oregon, we missed what I, as a Midwesterner, would call True Fall. Pine needles don’t turn red and yellow, see.

13. Also, soup is awesome. Soup is awesome.

14. Cell phones are stupid. Our community gave our phones up to a cardboard box from Monday morning to Friday afternoon, a sort of phone jail. Look! People’s faces!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

12 Reasons Why I Love Christmas

What's Not To Love? But These Reasons Are Why Christmas Is Best

Young woman with open arms enjoying the snow on a street decorated with Christmas lights.

There are so many reasons why I love the Christmas time! Check out the joy that makes this time of year truly special, from festive traditions to heartwarming moments. Enjoy!

Keep Reading...Show less

A Beginner's Wine Appreciation Course

While I most certainly do not know everything, I feel like I know more than the average 21-year-old about vino, so I wrote this beginner's wine appreciate course to help YOU navigate the wine world and drink like a pro.

White wine being poured into a glass

Keep Reading...Show less
Types of ice cream

Who doesn't love ice cream? People from all over the world enjoy the frozen dessert, but different countries have their own twists on the classic treat.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

100 Reasons to Choose Happiness

Happy Moments to Brighten Your Day!

A man with a white beard and mustache wearing a hat

As any other person on this planet, it sometimes can be hard to find the good in things. However, as I have always tried my hardest to find happiness in any and every moment and just generally always try to find the best in every situation, I have realized that your own happiness is much more important than people often think. Finding the good in any situation can help you to find happiness in some of the simplest and unexpected places.

Keep Reading...Show less

Remember The True Meaning of Christmas

“Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?”

A painting of the virgin Mary, the baby Jesus, and the wise men

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year. Christmastime is a celebration, but have we forgotten what we are supposed to be celebrating? There is a reason the holiday is called Christmas. Not presentmas. Not Santamas. Not Swiftmas. Christmas.

boy standing in front of man wearing santa claus costume Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

What many people forget is that there is no Christmas without Christ. Not only is this a time to spend with your family and loved ones, it is a time to reflect on the blessings we have gotten from Jesus. After all, it is His birthday.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments