KANE: A walk in the woods



Jonas Kane

I hope you’re reading this outside. After all, it’s a beautiful day (unless it’s raining – but even then, you can frolic in the lovely rain). A robin sings a soothing tune, someone blasts the wondrously jarring melody of a Sean Kingston song in the background and the sun radiates a pleasing and glowing warmth upon your skin.

I’m not trying to create a mental picture for you. This should be your physical reality right now as you relax outside on a bench in the Grotto under the shade of a towering oak tree, with a cool spring breeze lazily blowing past at just the right speed.

There is, in a sense, so much going on right now.

Finals are soon upon us, and in the interim, teachers will ask us to churn out last-minute papers and study until painful hours of the night for exams.

At the same time, a political fervor has seemingly swept through the campus, with Tuesday’s primary and recent appearances by Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton and John McCain (the latter courtesy of Chris Matthews and the Theatre of the Absurd).

Speeches, formals, parties and other events all abound as the year slowly fades like the setting sun.

Tensions tend to run high this time of year, as schoolwork and extracurricular obligations clash with the externally pleasant weather in a wholly unpleasant fashion, leaving you perhaps in the library or Bartley or Tolentine, gazing out an open window and breathing in the sweet aromas of spring that you are so unfairly denied.

Admittedly, I’m using the word “unfairly” in a somewhat facetious manner here, being that most of us at Villanova, despite the minor annoyances we might experience, have little firsthand experience of how truly unfair life can be.

And after all, it is our choice to be at college and to take classes when we could instead lounge around eating stale potato chips and watching “Saved by the Bell” reruns.

And classes are not as restrictive as the potential tedium of having an actual job that requires your presence day in and day out.

But still, beneath all the restrictions placed on us by obligations from classes and activities, there is this internal flame that burns with a desire for something more.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his speech to Roman Catholic school administrators at Catholic University last week, voiced the interesting phrase, “Truth means more than knowledge.” While Benedict was speaking about the relationship between faith and reason, I’d like to turn his words in the direction of finding truth outside the knowledge gained in a classroom.

Learning in a classroom setting from books is splendid and fine, but there is something more to be said for personal, firsthand experience. And when I say personal, I do not mean in any way to suggest an experience of isolation – it is precisely the opposite of that.

Rather, it is the regaining of what is lost when you only view the world from a removed, sheltered setting inside. It is when you instead embrace the world directly.

It is the experience of going outside for a short while when you don’t have time, of taking a train into the city to walk around and see the hidden beauties you’ve never realized, of doing something ridiculous and leaving yourself naked in the world, free of the sometimes overwhelming and hindering restrictions placed on us.

I’m not suggesting that you skip all of your classes and become an aimless ne’er-do-well. But perhaps, rather than simply reading the required Wordsworth poem for your English class, you might take it outside and read it, seeing the beauty of the world up close, letting the breeze lift the flimsy paper upon which the poem is written out of your hands, leaving you unburdened and free to walk into the woods yourself.


Jonas Kane is a sophomore English major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].