At a first sight, the word surroundings sounds like something similar to shiny rounded rings enclosing something important in its center. However, these surroundings have often an importance in themselves and can be as relevant as the center on which we are too obsessively, crazily, stressfully focused. If my first post was about the relationship between graduate life and Time, the second one will investigate (wow, I’m so academic here) how the former relates to Space. Obviously, the two are strictly correlated and we will see that the idea of discovering our surroundings depends also on the choice to give time to this process of discovering and exploring. Yet, I do not want to be boringsophical here, just tell something that any graduate student may feel on his or her own skin.
Just thinking about this word, surroundings (let’s switch on our brains for two seconds), take to realize that our view of what surrounds us will be always affected by limits: we can see as widely as our eyes allow us to do and, even though one may have movable eyes that could place themselves on both the sides of his or her head, at the end a blind-damned-spot will always remain. Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these limits or the blind spot would prevent us from enjoying our surroundings. On the contrary, I mean that the presence of these limits and our being aware of their existence should whisper in our ear a gentle reminder that may sound like that: “Remember, there are places that you want to discover….there are spots that you cannot see, unless you turn your head away from what you are doing and point towards this black-but-infinitely-amazing-hole…”
Therefore, guys, discover, get out from that lab, make that chair fall behind your back, finally standing up, abruptly and energetically. The dust of the books that you are reading will never get the color of the leaves that paint the woods around Montreal (and everywhere in Canada). The computer on which your head have been lying for days (weeks?? Years???) will never have the voice of a friend of yours that smiles and laughs while you hike or climb up one of the “hills” that surround the city (and no, “hills” is not a mistake if you think that I come from a region, in Italy, where the lowest mountain is about 1000 m high). Although these heights are not much higher than the sea level (still joking), I recommend the enjoyable walks through them. In other words, get lost and at least once, before the winter, do whatever your rational mind would repeat not to do (things like “You have to stay here! Woooork! Wooooooooooork”).
I’ll leave the questions about where, when, how, what, etc. to you, but I will gladly answer the question “with whom?”. More correctly, it’s McGill itself that gives you the answer to that. The McGill Outdoors Club organizes many activities (hiking, rock climbing, paddling, cycling, downhill skiing, telemark skiing, cross-country skiing, ice-climbing, winter camping…..do you need more???) that you may be interested in and would allow you to do them with other students and members of the McGill Community. And also, if you are not that kind of climbing-wherever-there-is-a-rock guy or girl, than join PGSS and their Apple or Pumpkin picking trip!
And I conclude, again, with few more boringsophical words. The space around us is something that we cannot fully know or understand, but in this impossibility resides the best opportunity that we may have, that is the possibility to experience this space as discovery, together with people that want to share this kind of experience. Go out then and jump into that blind spot where our blindness is our first privilege.