Free. I found that the only word that could possibly describe the experience I was living.
A bright sunny afternoon opened around me, a playground with laughing children stretching before my view. Everything spoke of joy, innocence, and childhood bliss.
Ahead of me ran a young third grader, slim limbs a blur as she flew across the bark towards the spiral slide. Her pink coat was flapping behind her, the air tearing at her clothes and hair. I tore after her, my lungs chastising me for my lack of commitment to exercise as I panted from the exertion. We climbed up onto the play equipment, slipped through tunnels and swung across monkey bars.
“Man, I’m getting too old for this,” I grunted as I slid down a long pole to the ground.
I could see the teachers smirking a bit as I followed the young girl around. I knew I had to be amusing to see a college student trying to make her way around a playground created for people half her age. Even so I tried to ignore the looks they were giving each other and continue to give the girl the attention she clearly wanted.
In spite of the pain in my lungs, the looks I was getting and the difficulty in getting through the tunnels I still couldn’t help but have a smile on my face.
My little bruin was making up a fantastic story as we went and I was mildly impressed with her imagination.
“We have to save George Washington!” she cried as we rushed off towards another location.
I chuckled softly, remembering back to those old childhood days of making up tales during recess. It had been one of my favorite parts of school. Back in those days everything was easy. There was so little judgment when your story was flawed or parts seemed illogical. There was freedom to simply create and enjoy. I couldn’t help but envy my student as she continued to narrate in a carefree way.
“Stop the boat! We’re heading straight towards Zombie Island!” she cried as she stared frantically out at a normal looking stretch of grass.
“Oh no, wouldn’t want to head there,” I replied as I stopped spinning on the fake steering wheel. I glanced down into adoring blue eyes. “What next?”
“We have to go talk to the ghosts!”
I grinned as she ran off to grab a hula hoop pulling it around her to allow communication with the spirits.
I’m supposed to be her mentor. That’s the strange thing about what happened that beautiful day on the playground. I’m supposed to be inspiring her. However, I’m finding more and more that it’s just the opposite. Seeing her beautiful innocence, the pure desire to create and imagine was moving to me and continues to be as I spend time with her.
I suppose viewing those pieces of the childish mind have made me yearn to feel that way again. To write freely and openly. To imagine simply for my own desire and not to please others. And certainly if I could go back to that I would because I believe the true spirit of my writing lies within the heart of my childhood self.
But alas, I am stuck as an adult and all I can do is dream and remember those days of the past when imagination was free and unchecked. Even so, I continue to allow my thoughts to wander at times and try my best to let ideas gather no matter how ridiculous they might seem at the time. And of course I try to never be afraid to spend a little time being a child at heart, even if I may get a few weird looks.