I had the wonderful pleasure if having my seven year old nephew spend the night with me the other week. And while sleeping next to him was like sleeping next to a mixed martial arts fighter, it was good to have him over.
He wanted to go out on the trails with me and Zoey and since I was recovering from an overuse injury of my IT Band, I was happy to get outdoors. I was also excited to show him one of my favorite places to run, Gunpowder State Park. About 15 minutes into our walk, he said the most beautiful words I could ever hear, “Can we run?” And my heart beamed. Oh, yes darling, we can run.
So we did.
And it was fantastic.
The sound of his laughter was music to my ears and it sang to my heart. And I too began to laugh as my seven year old self found her way once again out on the trails.
I’ve said many times before in my blogs that running brings out the kid in me. I have not a care in the world and my mind is free of the daily grind of life. Yes, there are runs where my thoughts are deep and they are consumed with inner reflection of my life. But really…most times I’m concentrating on staying up right and not falling on my face (one of my biggest fears is falling and breaking my front teeth). I’m breathing in the fresh air as I’m smiling, laughing, and running through the woods as if I were seven. I have not a worry in the world. I’m carefree and I’m running.
We stopped from time to time to play in the water and when he wanted to climb rocks and downed trees, I encouraged him. And when he was leery, I encouraged him some more. Explore my darling. Take in all that surrounds you and have no fear. There will be a time in your life when you wish you could be out here instead of some office in the corporate world. Take the time now and remember these moments. They will get you through some tough times later in life.
I remembered that as a child I was a bit of a wanderlust. When we were stationed in Okinawa, I would wander off to the commissary on my own to get lemon drops or head across the Air Force base and play in the woods. Once, I got on a Sunday School bus and didn’t tell my mom. The kids got on and I was curious…and it ended up being my first time at church. I would wander the streets of Taipei visiting neighbors and family that lived in the area and when we were in Hsin Chiu I would wander the country side with my cousins. All this before the age of seven. My poor mother. She couldn’t let me out of her sight for a moment.
But I think seven is a great age. You’re mature enough to understand most of what’s going on around you, yet still naive to the monotony of the daily grind. You don’t have a care in the world, except homework and playing with friends. You are not yet jaded and your eyes are innocent enough to see the truth in just about everything. For the most part, you are fearless and your spirit is free and unbroken. You are seven and life has just begun for you.
And when I run, I am taken back to those early years. I am fearless and my spirit is free and unbroken. When I run, I am seven again.