As a child I daydreamed about living in the endless woods behind my house. The notion of living with the land and creatures, to be enveloped in the greatness of Mother Earth, gripped me and sparked my imagination.
My family instilled these values in me and I was lucky to spent many weekends camping, fishing, and canoeing with my family. Highlights of my childhood consisted of: watching my father build fires, return the smaller fish back into the river, and teach me how to canoe; my mother, a petite and powerful woman showing me how to pitch a tent and gently appreciate all creatures from bull frogs and salamanders to deer and foxes; convincing my step-dad to help me build a teepee in the flush forest behind my house, where well-worn Mexican blankets covered the small circular dirt floor and just outside of the teepee entrance I carefully shaped old bricks into a makeshift fireplace.
I spent most afternoons in the woods with my pup, Oreo. We’d race through the knotted roots and pricker bushes, jump over fallen trees and boulders, until we reached Rush Brook, a small stream teeming with crayfish and salamanders. Oreo would venture off farther from the stream sniffing and digging and otherwise enjoying her canine talents, leaving me to sift quietly through the greenery, name the trails, catch salamanders, study the flowers and ferns, collect rocks, and leap across the stream bends.
It was quite simply my happy place.
One day my mom asked me, “What would be your perfect day?”
“I would go into the woods to swim and play in that little pool within the stream.”
She was both surprised and humbled that her child’s perfect day was so simple and easily done. That weekend we donned our swim suits, outfitted a backpack of snacks and towels, explained to Oreo that we were going on a “walk” (in harmony with the typical dog temperament, she jumped and barked in animated spurts of adorableness), and off we went.
With carefully quiet steps keeping our pace slow and steady, Oreo romped ahead while I explained the names of the trails, my favorite nooks, and the baby moss growing on tree stumps. The Queen’s Trail, Prickly Path, and Fern Gully led us towards the stream’s cool pool.
Fearless and free, I jumped in. The pool’s slimy bottom squished and squeezed between my toes, while the bracing cold was refreshing.
Laughing at the startling sensations, I fell onto my back, watching the squinting sunlight peek through the leaves.
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It can be easy to remember these moments, to relive them in your memories as you sit inside doing “adult” things. But why simply remember when you can go have the same amazing adventure as an adult?
As my favorite yogini, Meghan Currie, said in a YouTube video,
“one of the great things about being an adult, is you can do whatever you want.”
Use this summer to betray convention, destroy your idea of responsibility, revolutionize the way you spend your free time:
play like a kid!
Adventure in the woods
Play on a playground
Catch lightning bugs
Play tag with your friends
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How will you play?