When I turn off Washington Road and feel my steps soften on the dirt path, all the stress from schoolwork, rowing practice, and my other obligations gradually melts away. I feel my chest open and remember how calming it is simply to focus on breathing. Jogging along, I adjust to the landscape of abundant greenery and water so still that I keep waiting for it to break. I navigate around geese, sending them into a frenzy; see chipmunks dart across the road a few feet in front of me; and, with luck, glimpse a turtle sunning on a rock. Though I remain within walking distance of campus, I feel miles away.
Like any Princeton student, I sometimes find myself wanting to escape. From my starting point at the boathouse, the towpath stretches for miles in each direction. Going south, I run past the canoe-rental shop and through the golf course. Each time I reach these landmarks, I am reminded of the world that lies just beyond campus but within grasp, if I simply take the time to explore and engage.
Every time I hit the well-trodden dirt road, I feel mentally transported, hypnotized by the natural beauty. Alone with my thoughts, I let myself stop to soak in the stillness. The towpath offers sanctuary from the constant motion on campus, and it reminds me to keep everything up the hill in perspective.
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