Lesson from a Street Brick

Whose ground are you walking on?

Streets in Athens, Ohio are paved with blocks like this one… even if most exist under a layer of pavement.

The Backstory

Few people give a second thought to the ground we walk on every day. The roads. The sidewalks. The dirt path. The ground we walk on has a story.

What stories you are building upon are just as important as the stories you are building. However, if you experience a place that has shaped you, and you don’t take the time to “walk down memory lane,” you will regret it.

What you should do before leaving a place

I work with graduating students every year, as they complete their internships and ready for graduation. When given the opportunity, I always give them the same advice… walk the grounds.

Walk the campus. Take it all in. Savor the moments as you walk the paths you’ve walked hundreds of times over several years. You grew up walking the paths. The roads. The sidewalks. You started the path and ended it… becoming a new person in such a short amount of time.

Walk slowly. Breathe the air and spend extra time looking and imagining your accomplishments in the area. The stories. The stress. The memories. Walk the paths that you made famous. This walk will be with you for the rest of your life, and you will always remember it. Trust me.

The Object

It was advice I was given; I took it; and now I pass it on. That walk around Ohio University on the infamous Athens Blocks in my final weeks on campus is a couple of hours that I cherish every time I think about it.

I don’t go back to Athens very often, but I really don’t have to.

A couple memorable Ohio University walks

I lived in an area of South Green known as New South for four years, which was the furthest away you could live and still live on campus. I know, because my friends and I counted the steps to many places on campus! Really.

“New South” is the furthest bottom right group of buildings.

I lived in buildings 122, 130, and 134… a.k.a. Fenzel, Atkinson, and Wray. What is known as the “catwalk” connects all of the buildings, so you could walk the catwalk or the ground depending on where you were going.

One of the last walks I remember on the catwalk was returning from a final presentation in a class… actually, after every “last” final exam, that final walk back to my room was the best… no more worries or work until the next quarter, a huge sense of relief, and big feeling of accomplishment.

Since I lived on South Green, I had the joy of walking up and down Morton Hill many times a day, literally!

Morton Hill, Ohio University

It’s not how steep it is that gets ya… it’s how long it takes to get to the top! The hill just seems to never end, but once you start, you have to finish. At one point on my way back from class, I rode my bike down the hill to save time — I saved time, but I never did that again! That was stupid.

The Lesson

Both the South Green catwalk and Morton Hill walks might as well have my footprints etched in the brick and concrete. Like the thousands before me and the thousands after me, those walks left a lasting impact — I remember them like I walked them yesterday.

I consider it my job to pay it forward. To tell the stories. To keep legends alive. To create legends. Everyone has a responsibility to tell the story of the ground they’ve walked on and the stories of those that paved it.

The Take-aways:

  • Don’t be shy about telling your story
  • Share the history of the ground you’re walking on
  • Appreciate the places you go and those that came before you
  • Reflect on the moments that shape who you are

While the Athens Block still paves the streets of Athens, OH, the brick carries so much more weight than the average brick. It carries the sentiment of accomplishment. Loyalty. Growth. What is the story of your path?

BONUS: The Athens Block in this story was photographed at my home about 15 years after I got it, but how did I get it? That’s a story for another day and involves some fun residence life orientation events at The Ridges.

Written by Shaun Holloway.