Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

On Benches and Taking Breaks

Carolyn Ten Eyck
October 10, 2016

There’s a bench in the northern part of the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) to which I’m particularly attached. I first went there in the November of my sophomore year, on an unusually warm Wednesday afternoon. I’d meant to go down to the Kokosing Gap Trail, my normal walking venue, but the trailhead on Brooklyn Street caught my eye. After a few steps, the path didn’t seem to lead anywhere, and I was about to turn around when I saw the bench.

It was nothing ornate, just a few planks boarded together, but a welcoming sight to any wanderer nonetheless. And so I sat. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Kenyon sits atop a hill, but the view was enough to remind me. From that bench, I could see Route 229 running parallel to the Kokosing River. Two pathways — asphalt and water.

The first semester of my sophomore year was really hard, for a multitude of reasons. I was the busiest I’d ever been at Kenyon, between ensembles and clubs and a daunting course load. Everything was a blur of work and friends and late nights. When I could find a spare hour of free time, which wasn’t often, I would spend it in bed, watching a TV show or scrolling through my phone. I justified it to myself by saying that I needed some time to let my brain turn off, to not have to think about anything in particular. But that’s not always a healthy way to recharge, and part of me knew that.

Sitting on that bench on that warm November day, I left my phone in my backpack, and my textbooks too. Instead, I did nothing. Looking over Gambier, it was hard not to think about all of the things I had to do. So I let the thoughts come, eventually pulling out my journal to write some of it down. I was comfortable in my solitude, and when my friend texted me about dinner plans, I told him to come join me. The two of us sat there, alone and together at the same time, as the sun began to set.

So next time you come across a bench, be it on Middle Path or the Gap Trail, I’d recommend taking a seat and taking a breath. It does wonders.