Posted by: M.C. | 7 September 2010

Outside

Yesterday, because it was Labor Day, and because my two-year-old son needed some place to run around because–well, because he’s two years old–I took him to my favorite place in town. Of course, I’d forgotten it was my favorite place because when I get home from work in the evening or when I’m home during the weekends, I tend not to go outside. Four or five days a week, I do go running, but that’s usually the only thing that brings me out of doors. My wife is fond of taking our son out into the front yard of the house where we have our apartment, but I’m reluctant to join them. Maybe it’s because the yard is pretty small. Maybe it’s just inertia that sets in once my rump hits the couch. But after yesterday, I realized that something else may be going on.

When I was a boy, I spent as much time outside as my health (I had childhoom asthma) and my schoolwork would allow. Most of that time–at least in my memory–was spent alone. On the military base in Latin American where we lived for four years, I wandered beneath the jungle’s dark canopy sometimes for hours at a time. In Kansas, where I lived later, I walked along the edge of wheat fields, followed small streams, and picked my way among clusters of cottonwood trees. I’m sure that I had companions sometimes, but it’s the solitude that I recall more than anything else. That feeling is something I’ve been reluctant to share with anyone else, so rather than share it, I’ve shied away from the experience altogether.

But for some reason, walking through the park yesterday with my son was a completely different experience. It might have something to do with his lack of desire for any agenda or purpose or structure. He spent a good bit of the time simply running along the paved path. Or he searched for rocks to toss into the still pond. Or he simply sat on the ground, digging at the soil with a stick or tossing bits of gravel to make the tall grass shiver. We didn’t picnic or hike; we just wandered and walked and sat and looked up at the trees and felt the wind blow. It felt good to be outside of everything again.

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Responses

  1. Love this entry. Glad you had that time with him.


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