Stress-Free, Blissful, and Calming — My Week in Moab

Lucy MacNeela, Editor

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A clear head. 

A breath of fresh air. 

A connection with the Earth that cares for us. 

Although these things seem mundane, they hold immense power, and after spending a week in Moab, Utah last month on a trip offered through La Salle, I was able to more fully comprehend what it means to truly live. 

I was given the ability to quiet my constantly rambling thoughts and just allow myself to just be. Be present, be happy, and be content with where I was and who I was with. There were no social pressures, just me and the luscious mountains that secluded the beautiful campsite. I felt the most alive that I have in a very long time. 

I am a very busy teenager — balancing school, work, friends, and family can be a hefty task. Especially as a senior, when a seemingly life-changing decision was moments away from having to be made, I was in a constant state of anxiety. 

Being able to step back from the constantly booked calendar that overwhelms my mind and challenges my body was a gift that I didn’t know I so desperately needed. 

It was five full days of bliss — no phone, no responsibilities, no time-constraints. I was able to live fully in the present moment, entirely engaged in conversation or at peace with the silence. 

Myself, Ms. Cha, Mr. Dreisbach, 11 other La Salle seniors, and around 20 girls from St. Mary’s Academy spent our days immersed in the land around us. Hiking, walking, river-rafting, and learning about things like water rights and the indigenous peoples that have lived on the beautiful lands of Moab for centuries were just a few of the activities that we participated in. 

I felt so much more cognizant and focused than I ever have in a classroom setting. This experience taught me that real-life, hands-on experiences are so much more valuable than being lectured at. 

Being able to visually see what I was being taught made the information stick so much better in my head and brought a level of attentiveness that I didn’t know I was capable of. 

For example, in the lesson that we did on native species and invasive species, we were able to walk around the riverbed and, in real time, identify which insects and plants surrounding us belonged to which plant groups. This way of imparting knowledge proved to be much more digestible than classroom teaching.

Having an environment with no distractions — as my phone was never just a grab away — provided me with an unexpected sense of relief. I was not in a state of doom-scrolling through Instagram or TikTok. Instead, I had to be — wanted to be — talking and listening to the lovely people around me. And I grew to not even miss the instant gratification and communication that technology provides. 

At the start of my senior year, I made it a goal of mine to branch out. I wanted to break out of my shell, so at the beginning of the year when sign-ups for Moab were released, I jumped at the opportunity. I went with a group of people, the majority of whom I was not familiar with, and although that initially provided me with a sense of anxiety, it ended up being a great bonding experience with the people around me. 

Coloring, hacky-sacking, playing cards, and laying out in the beautiful sun shining down on us were ways that we spent our free time.

Even though it was almost unbearably cold most of the time, my experience in Moab and spending time in constant awe of the beauty of the Red Rock Country was an opportunity that I will never forget. 

Throughout the week, I found clarity. Even with many big decisions and a lot of new adventures ahead, I allowed myself to let go of the giant weight of stress that filled my mind. 

I was able to take a moment for myself to be free. I didn’t have to do or be anything, I was able to take a step from my life and give myself a chance to truly ponder. 

Although it might sound a little bit optimistic to assume that everyone has the opportunity to do so, my advice to everyone struggling with the weight of stress or expectations is to get out of your environment and comfort zone and get away from technology. Connecting with nature and getting outside is one of the few things that allows you to escape from the confines of the inside and your mind, so utilize it.