As a kid we lived in a big house that backed up to the woods. There was a huge creek that separated our house from the woods. The creek was exceptionally long…it went on for miles. People loved hiking through those woods, they had great nature trails, bird watching, and if you were lucky you’d get to see a black bear and strategically decide how to escape from it (OK, that only happened once). My parents let me run free as a kid, I guess they thought the woods were safe. I would hop the fence, climb down the steep slope that led to the creek, cross the bridge I had made out of a fallen tree limb, and run off into the woods. There was no greater feeling of freedom.
In the woods there were endless things to explore. Sometimes I would get lost, but I loved it. It brought out my survival instincts as I fought my way back home. Some days I would climb way up in a magnolia tree that sat right behind our house and spy on people for hours. I had memorized the footwork for how to get to the top of the tree the fastest and would time myself to see how long it would take. There was a branch that I always laid in, it perfectly contoured my small frame and I could just relax…occasionally I would fall asleep up there. The magnolia tree was huge. We had a three story house and the branch I always laid in was level with our roof. My parents must have really trusted my skills.
Sometimes I’d go for a swim in the creek, other times I’d hike one of the nature trails. No two trips through the woods were the same. All that to say, in the woods there was freedom; there was adventure.
Mind you, these adventures all happened when I was a kid. And I’ll let you know, I’m not that old. This was in the 90’s. We had some technology, not as advanced as today, but we had it. I just had no interest in it. Nothing could compare to an adventure in the woods. I was too young to know what freedom really was, but I knew an adventure out there was the most fun anyone could ever have.
Then as I got older, life welcomed me. Stress greeted me. “Reality” told me that those things are just for kids, it’s time to grow up now. What a bunch of lies.
We need to be connected to nature. We need to be freed from our frightening dependence on technology. I often find myself wanting to climb mountains, trees, swim in streams, etc. but don’t because in the back of my mind I think “I might get hurt.” Modern society has tainted me and I’m trying to heal myself from that. It takes a lot of prayer and consistency, but He is helping me one step at a time.
Part of my healing is running. It’s good for the soul. I believe running is one of the body’s most natural forms of freedom. It’s always an adventure. You can head out and not know where you’re going and discover so many new things along the way. It’s free transportation. It’s exercise. It’s satisfying the natural longing to be curious in a healthy way. It’s frustrating when my body gets tired, because I want to just keep going. So I keep training daily in hopes that one day I won’t get tired…I’ll just keep going.
I think it’s time we rediscovered the adventurous children that we once were. Living without fear, always on an adventure, always learning…free. The way He created us to be.
Below are some pictures from a favorite trip of mine. No tourist attractions, just us and nature.
Swimming in a waterfall we found on a hike…
And of course, lots of hiking…