Graduation, Hiking, and Mental Health

Although today was suppose to be a rest day, I needed to get out of the house and process some feelings.

Today is graduation day for the Class of 2020…or at least it would’ve been in another time. There are three awesome people who plan the Senior Lock in each year and I am one of those people. There was no planning this year. There will be no lock it. No graduation. No hugs goodbye or pictures taken. When the clock strikes 5:00 am tomorrow, I’ll be asleep in my bed for the first time in five years instead of escorting several dozen bloodshot eyed new graduates out into the stark dawn. It’s symbolical really. When they leave the Senior Lock in and shuffle out into the morning light, they are embarking on a whole new adventure. Our school mascot is the eagle and although I’d never say it to their faces, the morning of the lock in is when eaglets get to fly.

It’s crazy to think that today would’ve been chaos between rehearsing for graduation, teaching the final lessons before school gets out, planning and preparing for the lock in, rushing home to change, coming back to the school for graduation, and then entertaining a group of students from 10:00pm – 5:00am.

I am not a person who likes chaos but today I miss it.

With all of that weighing on my mind, I desperately needed an escape for a couple of hours. So I donned my tennis shoes, loaded up the audiobook version of The Dresden Files side story anthology entitled Side Jobs and I went for a hike.

Interstate Park is the only state park that is split between two states: Wisconsin and Minnesota. Although I’m partial to the Wisconsin side because they have more trails and less people, it’s farther away from me. (Which is ironic since I live on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix river.) Don’t get me wrong, the Minnesota side is nice too and it offers a little more picturesque views, but it also draws more people and I don’t want to be around people.

The weather was looking a bit schoochy (fishing term for stormy with a dropping barometric pressure) so I figured today wouldn’t be as crazy with tourists. I was also trying to avoid getting sunburned since I got a little red on my bike ride on Wednesday.

It was quite humid today and I realized that some of my t-shirts are a bit too big for me. The one I was wearing today felt like it hung off me like a nightgown. Thank God I can still buy clothes online during this pandemic.

Despite the weather, the walk was a 75 minute reprieve from thinking about today. I listened to a fun side story out of The Dresden Files universe. I let my mind wander, but I also let myself be present in the moment. I didn’t think about anything except my book, my oversized t-shirt, and how good the gentle breeze felt now that I was dripping sweat from the humidity.

There are no easy answers or solutions to any of this. I can’t control the fact that I wont get to say goodbye to my students. I can’t change the fact that our school has postponed graduation until mid-July and even then we don’t know what the actual ceremony will look like or if it will be an online ceremony.

I can’t change these things. But I can decide how I respond to them.

And today, I just needed to take a walk…

One thought on “Graduation, Hiking, and Mental Health

  1. This time has challenged us like no other recent time. Many “rights of passages” have been stripped away, however, this generation of graduates has set the course for having a stronger sense of compassion, selflessness, and discipline. You have still made an impact in their lives, too, even if you are not able to kick them out of the school nest in person.


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