Each spring we repeat annual patterns of awakening. Days grow longer, daffodils dot the hillsides and we again realize we crave and adore the nature that surrounds us. As students, staff and faculty of Pacific, we have the great fortune of celebrating this annual awakening with a spring break. This week-long retreat from the academic grind gives us a chance to take deeper breaths, get out of our heads for a while and possibly take on a small adventure to revitalize ourselves.
I have had 35 springs breaks in my years on this planet and I am not sure what would happen if I didn’t have the next one to look forward to. Each one has the potential to hold within its nine days some magic, some new way of looking at things, some new awareness of self. Think about this: all of our other “holidays” have a prescribed intention. Maybe it’s family, history or religion that each is meant for. Spring break is meant for you. You get to make what ever adventure, destination, experience, magic you want. And unlike me, you may not have 35 spring breaks left. You may earn yourself a career that only allows the other holidays to be recognized.
Maybe you did capitalize on this rare and precious seasonal awakening. Maybe you joined a service trip to some other city, state or country. Maybe you planned your own adventure with friends. My hat is off to those who saw this chance and seized the opportunity. Many did not, however, and Outback saw a dismal turnout in participation. With incentives like beautiful destinations, exciting activities and huge discounts in price, I am left wondering how it is that so few students registered for trips.
The deep and profound inspiration that comes from these trips lasts a lifetime. It isn’t simply that one goes rock climbing or backpacking or canoeing. It is so much more about earning your next night’s dinner and having conversations lasting into the night under a starry sky, or finding yourself in awe at what you see as you round the next bend.
Sometimes the greatest thing that happens on an Outback spring break trip is found in a moment of absolute silence with only your heartbeat and your imagination to illustrate what you see behind closed eyes. These moments can and do happen because you take a chance, try something new and sign up even if no one else you know has.
For myself, one of these inspirational moments happened atop a stone hoodoo in the Utah desert. As a sophomore in college I joined an Outback, backpacking trip to the Canyon lands national park. In the group were men and women, beginners and experienced hikers, sophomores and seniors and one exchange student from China. We each shared our reasons for signing on for this trip. You can imagine there were those who wanted to see Utah for the first time and those who wanted the challenge of backpacking for five days and those who just wanted a break from studying. When It came time for Yue to share she told us how her grandmother had fled the Japanese invasion two generations before and this was Yue’s chance to connect with her grandmothers struggle in a physical and tangible way. We were all leveled by her story and it will always stand as an example to me for how these trips – spring break, weekend or even just a day-long – can bring wellness and understanding into our lives.
As director of Pacific Outback, I continue to work for your participation in these kinds of trips. Every weekend we try and entice you to do something good for yourself.