by Christopher, Tufts 1+4 Participant
I laid on my bed in the humid hostel room as the dry bed sheets stuck onto my sweaty back. The whole room reeked of body odor from the day-old damp bathing suits hanging on the towel rack in the bathroom and some hidden in plastic bags. Two of my friends came back from their beach run with their sandy feat and were laughing in unison as the white floors became muddy. I was getting frustrated by these small annoyances, so I silently slipped out of the cramped hostel room while the four of my friends applied their sunscreen. I started walking on the Olón Beach to escape all the chaos and to let my mind breathe. Ten minutes into the walk, I closed my eyes and started walking, something that I do sometimes in my neighborhood in Tokyo out of boredom when I’m walking home from various places, but I often fail to walk even a block without opening my eyes out of a fear of hitting a pole or running into a bush. It’s a kind of test for me to see how straight and far I can walk before I become afraid of running into something. But on this beach, I was free. I checked the view before I closed my eyes again, and no one was present for a mile or two. However, the moment I closed my eyes, the liberating feeling that I enjoyed just moments ago was overtaken by fear. I felt blind, and I didn’t know where I was going.
Fear clouded my mind momentarily, but as I continued to walk, it was replaced by a sense of thrill for this challenge. I began to think about the physical senses that I could use to guide me toward the other side of the beach. So after I took a few deep breaths, I tuned into the sensations of my body. The warm and soft wave wrapped my ankle, and I felt the moisture in the sand; I was somewhat close to the water, and I was going in the right direction. A few minutes later, I realized that the waves weren’t hitting my ankles anymore; however, my feet were still feeling the moist sand. So I took a few diagonal steps to the left: one, two, three, four. My toes felt the lukewarm baby waves wading back into the ocean.
I eventually had to reopen my eyes after what seemed like hours, but realized that I probably only walked for half a mile. It was interesting how different the experience was to complete one mile while closing my eyes from a normal walk, because during my blind walk, every step mattered. The same mile contained steps with a totally different purpose and beauty to it. As I continued the walk towards the other side of the beach, I thought about this metaphor. I didn’t know far the end of the beach was and I couldn’t see if there were any obstacles in my path, but I learned to cherish the beautiful moment-by-moment sensations of the baby waves brushing my ankles, the warm and moist sand, and the rustling sound of the waves going back home. Just like on this blind walk on the Olón beach, my future is full of unknowns and sometimes my mind gets clouded by the sense of fear and the lack of direction. However, deriving anxiety from the future–something that I cannot fully predict or control—and letting it influence my present situation is pointless. Focusing on the one step ahead of me—no matter how blurry life may seem—will give me the strength and the courage to achieve it. So enjoy life, step by step. Disfrutar la vida, paso a paso.