Sometimes on my drive into work, I take the route past my old high school. No particular reason, I just get bored with the same drive everyday so I shake it up occasionally. Today was one of those mornings. There is a lot of activity in this area, since there is an elementary school on the block as well. As I was stopped at a light, I noticed kids being dropped off by parents, running to meet their group of friends outside the school doors. Other students were fumbling with their orange safety belts, trying to untangle them as they put them on, preparing to guard their corners. One girl had her arms extended in the “don’t cross the street” position, her face lifted up, eyes closed with a huge smile on her face. She did not care in the least if people were watching her. She was just enjoying the sunshine, the moment. Most of these kids were smiling. As I sat there, I could just sense their joy. The joy of being 14, the joy of being pretty much carefree, even if they don’t consciously realize it yet. The joy of hanging out with their friends, even if that means attending 7 hours of school. The joy of counting down the days until summer vacation. (Is there any better feeling in the world than when that final bell rings on the last day of school? I wish we could bottle that.) The fear of being arrested stopped me but I wanted to jump out of my car and yell “Enjoy this time of your life. Savor it. Don’t wish it away! Hold tight to it for as long as you can. You will miss it.” The light finally turned green and I drove away.
I understand that many did not have an ideal childhood. Trust me when I say I am one of those. But even through that pain and hurt, I can still look back at some of those days with sweetness and a longing to be truly carefree again. Free from the worry of mortgage payments, free from the 9 to 5 grind, from the ever constant fretting over my children, even if they are grown adults. (Maybe even more so now that they are!) Free from always thinking ahead to the next commitment, the next appointment on my calendar, the next deadline for work. The next “thing” I have to do.
I truly am thankful for my life. I don’t want to appear ungrateful. I guess I just want to re-learn how to exist more in the moment. How to genuinely appreciate what is happening at this exact minute in my life. To spread out my arms, lift my face to the sky and just be.