The simplest things in life are free and as we grow up we learn that they are also the same “things” that we yearn to go back to and relish in as an adult.
When I was young, I use to make forts in your back fields, I had shelter made out of branches, moss, ferns and sticks. It was just me and my faithful German Shepherd, Lobo. I would spend countless hours playing, building, dreaming of what life is going to be like when I get older. My dog was my constant companion. I had a backpack with a rope in case I needed it, a army shovel, two large plastic garbage sacks for ground cover, or in worse case scenario to use as a rain jacket, two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a canteen full of water, and a paper bag with dog food for Lobo, dressed in blue jeans and jacket I was off for a day of solitude with my dog. Together we would hunker down in a rain storm, listening to the sound of the rain on my little fort, hoping I built it well enough out of ferns, moss and branches that I would stay dry so my mom wouldn’t get upset when I came home later. My neighbor kid and I would each set out for a day of building our own fort, play “army”, as in we made it practically invisible to anyone casually walking by to see what fortress we each had for ourselves in the woods. We each had our own fort, and could not go to the other’s without permission. We had “code words”, usually something stupid to the common ear, such as mine was “Cowboys”, well, because even at 10 years old I LOVED the Dallas Cowboys. I believe Tony’s was “firefighter” because his dad was a firefighter. We would play in the woods and field all day long until dinner time when we knew we had to go back inside. This was so fun and normal to us. It was our backyard, our field of dreams. We would talk about what we were going to build when we got older, what kind of bikes we would have, how many dogs we would own, what kind, how we would train them, how we would live ect… Life was simple, life was in the moment. We didn’t care about yesterday, didn’t really care about the next day, just being in the moment, living, trying to catch critters just to set them free and see how they live, hoping to see coyotes, or deer or something only talked about, a bear ! We were experiencing life with dreams of the future. I had my dog, which I believed would have protected me from all things…. And he proved me right when Tony would try to sneak up on us… Tony soon learned, he could not do that if I had my dog close by !
The simple aspect of being outside, trekking, hiking, climbing trees, or crawling around on the ground, smelling the smell of the damp forest, the blossoming trees in the spring, the growing hay fields, all our senses in full bloom of awareness, something we considered normal and probably didn’t give it much thought other than “this is life”. That was my childhood.
As life moves along, we mature, finish school, start making a living, move out on our own, the memories of all those hours, days and memories soon become a distant past that we occasionally revisit with a smile of knowing we had lived as a child !
As an adult, some 40 years later, it is moments of hiking with my dogs in the early morning hours through the trails, the woods, listening to the deafening sounds of all the birds singing their songs for all to hear if I only stop and listen. It is then that I realize, “THIS IS IT, this is what I miss and what is important, being in the moment.” Much like the same feeling I get when mt biking, the being in the moment aspect of riding creates a sense of zen that I constantly seek to chase with each sequential ride there after. Today, on my daily hike with my dogs I had a sudden flash back to the kid I was at 10 years old with my dog, in the woods, alone, no civilization in sight or sound, that I realized that being the moment is the most sincere of being. I stopped, the dogs stopped and obediently sat at my side as they are trained to do, and I just listened. The birds were so loud, so constant, so overwhelmingly beautiful. The smells filled every olfactory sensory a human could possibly have, in such a way, one has to stop and take it all in as if not to miss one fragrance. The bugs, flies, bees, and even the scurrying critters going up a tree in game of chase all filled the moment. The smell of the moss that clings to the side of trees, the dampness of the forest ground, the whiff of the spring bloom all so powerful that it amazes me that there on not hundreds gathered close to me to take in the magnificent beauty that is all ours if we only choose to seek.
My dogs seem to get it, they happily sat at my side as I tried as I could to take it all in. Once I started forward once again, they were off to smell their newest smell and happily find out what’s next. It’s not too often that as an adult most of us will slow down, take the moment. Not stress about work, school, life, but just exist. It is pretty simple and the simplest of things do indeed bring the greatest joys are absolutely free.