Reclaiming Waldorf This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 6, 2011
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When I'm in the woods, the Waldorf comes out. It brushes off the dirt I buried it in, slips out of the cell I locked it in, plucks away the cobwebs I smothered it in. It emerges and sets to work rewiring my mind; old attitudes and behaviors long dormant resurface.

“Waldorf” is the moniker I use to classify the way of thinking and living that I grew up with when I attended a Waldorf school. From kindergarten through sixth grade I was nourished by a philosophy that lived in my classroom and my community. But when I left the school, I was no longer surrounded by the beliefs that had been my whole world, so I had to change – fast. Gone were the fairy tales and myths that made up our main lessons. Gone too were our weekly hiking days and the knitting of gnomes. Suddenly there were grades to worry about, tests to study for, movies and television shows to watch. I hid the Waldorf deep inside and tried to adjust to this new world.

The essence of Waldorf philosophy can be summarized in the word wholeness, and that isn't something one can simply cut away. Handwork, stories, and hiking were all part of the school day because there was no differentiation between math-time and nature-time; it was all exploring-time.

So when I step into the forest, Waldorf awakens in my mind. In the fog between the trees I see hooded figures. As pounding footfalls draw near, adrenaline fills my veins with cold ice. A demon? No, a pair of joggers. When I remade my mental landscape to exclude Waldorf, I kept my imagination intact. Flying by my cheek, the wind presses up against the redwoods, sending moans, like the low calls of hunting horns, echoing through the woods. I'm struck by the sounds the trees produce.

The realization that a tree can be loud unleashes a torrent of Waldorf. Here, in this moment, listening to loud trees, I recognize how narrow-minded I can be in day-to-day life. At school I never think about tree mysteries, and that's where the magic of Waldorf wholeness comes in.

I've been returning to Waldorf gradually. Actually, it's been in me all along, waiting for me to reclaim it. There is a richness to a life lived whole that I'm just beginning to discover.

First I rejected television. I didn't need it during my Waldorf years. Why should I need it now? Indeed, now that I've thrown out the replays of gruesome murder shows that used to run in loops through my head, there's much more room for my own thoughts. I also started exploring the library. I've always loved reading (especially well-crafted fantasies), but to begin my journey of wholeness I needed to rediscover how learning and life are one. School can seem so separate from the rest of my life, but by picking out books on topics that fascinate me – botany, the British Isles, classic literature from the 19th century – I can indulge my curiosity. When I spent a dinner discussing my history homework with my brother, I knew the magic was working. My life – school, the woods, books, dance, circus – was whole again.

I stop to watch a curtain of mist. There is an illusion of movement in the gossamer veil, and I strain to see the redwoods behind it more clearly. Heavy groans and throaty creaks remind me that the birds aren't the only ones with voices in this forest. The trees speak too.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm
This is really cool. I love the descriptions. Waldorf seems like a really cool place to go to school. Some of my best friends went there and loved it.
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm
*This is really good.
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