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Documentation vs. Full Experience

Rochelle W.'s picture

I had done an assignment similar to this one in my senior year of highschool, where I was told to go out and experience something new and write an essay about it. That assignment was not difficult for me and so I thought this one wouldn’t be either. But it turns out that this assignment was difficult for me. I think the reason lies in one key difference - I wasn’t writing while I was walking ( for my high school assignment I wrote while I was experiencing the new experience). I think the point of this assignment was to experience the walk fully, and then to separately write about it. I found it hard to separate the walking from writing about (or preparing to write about) the walking. I found it necessary to take notes while I walked, but also found that note taking pulled my attention away from the present, and pushed it into the future where I would be sitting down to write. I wonder if it is possible to fully experience something while at the same time trying to document it. For now I think the answer is that it is not possible. 

My essay differed from Thoreau's in that I wasn’t urging anyone to go out for a walk, or trying to convince the reader that walking is a necessary part of life. Instead I was writing about my thoughts and experiences from one particular walk. My walk differed from a Thoreauvian walk in that I was unable to completely escape from my obligations to society. They clung to me and I clung to them.