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The road not taken

| Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I’ve come to realize that I spend a fairly significant fraction of my waking hours walking — to and from class, the dining hall, the library, etc. I have also realized that it’s easy to fall into a rut when treading the familiar path between my dorm and those buildings. I have quickly figured out the shortest, most efficient paths, and I naturally will pretty much stick to those.

Lately, however, I have been making an effort to change the route up when I walk, particularly when I’m not in any rush. Walking shouldn’t just be a way to get from point A to point B; it should be a time of discovery and appreciation — you might even go as far as to call it a mini-adventure.

We like to complain that Notre Dame is boring or in the middle of nowhere, but over the nearly two centuries of its history this school has developed an uncountable number of quirks and secrets. Furthermore, everything lines up really nicely. We have all marveled at how the Golden Dome is perfectly centered straight ahead as you drive down Notre Dame Avenue and how the library and Touchdown Jesus mural are lined up with the stadium, but there are plenty of other sidewalks that are nicely aligned with various buildings that you cannot notice until you walk towards them. Hats off to all the architects and planners.

I find it interesting to think that there are sections of sidewalk on campus that I have walked on just about every day, hundreds of times in total, and there are also areas I have never walked on, even in pretty central areas of campus. You don’t realize how ingrained certain routes are until you take an unfamiliar one and everything just seems a bit off. You’re seeing familiar buildings, but from this perspective they form a unique visual arrangement that seems almost foreign. And every person has a different set of commonly-traveled paths, determined by their dorm, study habits, college, etc.

Even while walking the tried-and-true paths, it helps to just look around and avoid the temptation to just look straight ahead or down at your phone. I guarantee you’ll notice new things. Do you know what two Latin words adorn the Law arch? What about which two figures are depicted in the statue near the reflecting pool at the library?

I’m disappointed when I hear that some of my friends have never heard of certain central campus buildings or don’t know even where some residence halls are located. I see this as a missed opportunity to appreciate the beauty that this campus has to offer. There are even benefits if you have a more practical mindset; perhaps you’ll find a tucked-away, little-known study spot just in time for your exam.

So try taking a different staircase up to your second-floor DeBartolo Hall class. Take a walk to check out the construction on the new dorms or Corby Hall. Whether you live on campus or not, there’s always something new to discover.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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