Walls for mental well-being

Walls are interesting metaphors for artists. Most paintings, prints, and drawings are displayed on walls. Galleries segment spaces with walls. Viewers are guided through spaces by the use of walls.

Now, how about the wall itself as a place for meditation?

Jayden Erie ’24 made a thoughtful video in response to an assignment for English 206: Creative Non-Fiction to “create a multimodal essay that focuses on some aspect of your interactions with place.”

Jayden describes this work as “a video essay about my personal connection to a lacrosse activity called wall ball and the places where I play it. It’s been a valuable tool for maintaining my physical and mental well being, especially during the global pandemic.”

Six-minute video:

The ending is particularly poignant:

I spent a lot of time just sitting at home during my spring quarantine. Most of my days bled together in an unending cycle of purposeless sitting, and starring, and fantasizing about the far gone days of my last high school experiences.

I felt a lot like that ball actually, moving through each day only to bounce back to the same spot I was in the morning before, not really having gone anywhere, or accomplished anything. In the absence of school, and sports, and social gatherings, most of what made my day to day life feel structured and purposeful wasn’t there anymore. I couldn’t count on, or look forward to much during my time in isolation. That is, besides hitting the wall whenever I felt like it.

It kept me feeling purposeful, because, if I didn’t do anything else of substance that day, at least I got a little exercise in and got a little better at the sport I love to play. It also gave me a small sense of normalcy and comfort as it allowed me to escape into a place that was unaltered by the pandemic. A place, for me, that’s always going to be unaltered and protected from everything in the world that isn’t right in between me, and the wall.

Wherever I go, whatever happens to me, and as long as I’m able to play, I know I can always find a wall and escape into the hypnotizing thump of that rubber ball reliably bouncing off of whatever structure I come across. In this way, every new wall is familiar, and every new wall brings me to the same place. A place of comfort, focus, and purpose.

This video is part of the IWU COVID-19 exhibit. The script Jayden provided is available at iwuhistory.omeka.net/exhibits/show/iwu2020/item/123

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