Locust Walk – Mindful or Mindless?
I remember seeing a big picture of Locust Walk sprawled across the 3 pages of my admission packet to Penn, and reading a student’s comment about how it was the incredible energy she felt on Locust that made her decide that Penn was “the place to be”. Although I very much agree that Locust Walk possesses a unique vibe that its friends Walnut and Spruce lack, Locust Walk is perhaps one of the hardest places that Penn students can just “be”.
Locust is so often only a means to an end, a path we must take and take so often to go where we must go, that we naturally just speed past the weathered tiles of bricks, without realizing that perhaps, one brick is missing from the ground today.
What’s on your mind when you walk on Locust? Are you taking a glance at your watch to see how many minutes you have before your Math lecture starts at DRL? Or are you thinking of what kind of soup you will be grabbing at ABP? Do you make an effort to bypass the Compass so that you might not fail your upcoming midterms? So often, we are so caught up in our thoughts that we miss a dear friend walking past in the other direction, or even worse, we mindlessly trip on the Walk (it’d be interesting to do a study on the correlation between mindfulness and the number of trips!). And thus, the Walk is not appreciated for what it is – it could be so much more – a place where people can truly connect with each other and say more than cursory ‘hello’s.
The Project of Public Places calls Locust “The physical and spiritual center of the University of Pennsylvania campus.” Physical? Definitely. Spiritual? Not so sure.
But sometimes, Mindless Locust Walk transforms into Mindful Locust Walk around dawn, when the day is over and our minds are finally beginning to quiet…treasure these precious moments. Take time to appreciate the festive winter lights decorating the bare trees, walk along the zigzagged bricks, look at the posters on tree trunks and at the buildings around you. Savor the moment and make Locust Walk the place to be.