For the first time in my more than three and a half years at MSU, I went down to the Red Cedar River to feed the ducks.
This isnt something I would normally do, but my friends 4-year-old daughter was here for the weekend, and with the choice of watching MSU get slaughtered in a football game or feeding the ducks, I chose the latter.
My roommate and I made some popcorn, grabbed a bag of hamburger buns and were on our way.
It was a beautiful Saturday in October, and although red and orange leaves were covering the ground, it was sunny and warm. We quickly walked down the path from Bogue Street past Shaw Hall toward the Wells Hall footbridge. The one thought on my mind was to hurry up and get this over with so I could get home and get some work done before the day was over.
Following the quacking sounds, we settled on a spot on the bank of the river right after the bridge with the Administration Building behind us. I settled on a blanket of leaves with a bag of popcorn and a few ducks floating in the river in front of me. As if they sensed the food we held, ducks began to appear from nowhere and paddle toward us.
Caitlyn, the 4-year-old, squealed with delight as ducks would walk right up to her to take bread from her hands. I threw piece after piece of popcorn into the water, even beginning to enjoy myself, as I looked around and noticed the huge number of ducks that had surrounded us waiting for food.
Other than the sounds of running water and quacking ducks, the river bank was pretty silent. After the popcorn ran out I was able to sit back and enjoy the sights around me; people had blankets on the ground and were studying, someone was taking pictures, there was even a bride and groom getting wedding pictures taken by the river. I began to forget about the huge list of things I had to get done that weekend - all the errands I needed to run, the homework and papers that needed to be finished. For the first time in a long while I didnt feel completely stressed.
On the way back home, the three of us seemed to walk a little bit slower and talk a little bit less, enjoying the sights around us. Caitlyn saw a rabbit and we must have spent 15 minutes watching it eat a leaf. We sat ourselves down in the middle of the bike path and watched a rabbit; it was something I hadnt done since I was probably 4 years old. But now I was way too busy for something like that, right? Sitting there made me think of that old cliché, Stop and smell the roses. Maybe I hadnt been doing enough of that lately. Maybe we all need to take a break every once in a while and smell the roses, or watch the rabbits or squirrels or even just sit on the bank of the river and collect our thoughts.
When I got back home I was surprised to see that two hours had already gone by, but instead of worrying about the time I had wasted when I could have been doing more productive things, I felt calm and relaxed. I even agreed to go with Caitlyn and my roommate to a playground and then stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream afterward.
Later that evening when I started my work, I was surprised to find how much less time it took to get everything done. I didnt get as frustrated as I normally would, and I didnt feel as if the huge weight of everything that needed to be done was on my shoulder.
Its been almost a month since I made my first venture to the river, other than passing it for class. Of course it hasnt changed my life drastically, but I like to think that it made me learn to relax a little bit and look at all the simple, yet amazing things around me.
I try to look at campus in a different way. On my way to classes, I walk slower and look at the ivy-covered buildings on the north end of campus, the squirrels and chipmunks scampering around the trees and all the different-colored leaves falling to the ground.
I think everyone needs to take time out and relax a little bit. I know it is easier said than done, but a few minutes out of your day might make a difference in your work performance. Stopping to watch the squirrels play on the way to work or class, or even taking a minute to look out the window at the trees might give the few extra minutes needed to collect your thoughts and improve your day.
Shannon Murphy, a State News intern, can be reached at email@example.com.