Monday, April 16, 2012

One of the Delights of Childhood

The setting sun is fading, the sky is pale orange in the west, and deep blue is taking over. The wind is a strange mix of warm and cool as the heat dissipates, and the evening air sweeps in. I suck in a deep breath of fresh air, and pedal my bike faster over our bumpy rock neighborhood road. The first star has come out. I fly down the hill towards the lake and the air feels cooler. I toss my hair in the wind and abandon myself to the feeling of delight and contentment flooding me. Instantly, I'm 11 years old again, not a care in the world. Invigorated, I round the cul-de-sac and charge back up the hill, raising myself to a standing position on the pedals for more power. I reach the top, panting and refreshed, my mind cleared of the days fog and stress. The first crickets begin their nighttime chirping. Suddenly, I realize the exercise I was forcing myself to do has just become enjoyable.

When I was 11, most of my favorite activities were some form of exercise. I'd rather jump on the mini-trampoline than do math, when I was supposed to be helping with the garden, I'd run off to do cartwheels. Biking, rollerblading, baseball, tag, hide-and-go-seek, swinging, climbing trees, chasing lightening bugs and dancing barefoot through the grass all filled me with happiness. In the past few years, when I started feeling more like an adult, I didn't feel like I had as much time to go frolicking in freshly cut grass, and spending hours in such "useless" activities when there are so many more important things to claim my time. I realized that I felt like such things were too childish for me, nearing the advanced age of one-and-twenty. I had been "taking my exercise" in the form of running, swimming and some weights at the gym. You know, the "grown-up" stuff. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with that, but while I'm intentionally exercising for my health, I want to remember that exercise can, and should, be fun sometimes.

The end of my bike ride, in the last few minutes of fading twilight, I kick off my shoes, and run out into the freshly cut grass. Turn a few cartwheels, and then bend all the way back and land on my hands in a bridge. I slowly lower myself out of the arch onto my back in the grass, and admire the stars joining the first in the rich blue sky. The full-fledged cricket chorus swells. The only thing missing is a few fireflies...

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