Keeping a 2 1/2 year old on a trail is nearly impossible. I can see from their perspective that staying on the path is a little boring. That is what is great about being outdoors with your kids – you can let them loose to break the rules and design their experience, and no one is their to say anything! AJ was all over the place today; stomping through mud and puddles. Getting dirty was the least of his worries, and as I observed him I saw his creativity play out right in front of me. It was beautiful.
As parents in their thirties and working professionals, it’s easy to loose sight of the creativity that once guided us through life. We have been fully trained to follow the rules (or else) and conform to the norm. Watching AJ tromp in and out of the mud reminded me how to play outside of the box. He turned a boring old hike into tons of fun!
Needless to say, AJ owned today’s hike. He zipped along confidently, and found great joy in running through the tall, dead grass. He loved the freedom of setting his own pace as we circled a frozen lake. I was carrying MJ, who has been sick, and he slept most of the hike, popping his head up only to the sound of geese flying overhead. Joe urged AJ along when his detours got too long, and we got anxious to get going – to where or for what reason, I don’t know. The sense of urgency I approach life with follows me like a shadow, even when I’m in the great outdoors.
Everything in nature moves in seasons – slow and steady, never skipping a step. Whereas I tend to move quickly into the future without having a presence in the moment. Being outdoors reminds me to slow down, breath into the here and now, and accept the moment. This does not mean I won’t continue to strive for something better. It’s human nature to continually want more.
I am no different, but what I’d like to see change is how I respond to “wanting”. Living in the future where all of my dreams are reality takes away from my creativity and enjoyment of the moment. AJ reminded me through his playfulness that life is to be felt. To him the obvious trail was just an option; whereas for Joe and I it can be difficult to see the path beyond the trail. AJ had the foresight to see that he could quite literally take a different path, and we let him take charge. Children, like nature, move through each moment with a knowingness that everything is going to be alright; and that the obvious path is just one of many options.