How often do we as adults forget to make playtime for ourselves? We see our kids doing it, so why do we watch from the sidelines at the playground? Or better yet, why are we so afraid to stain our clothes?
In my adult life, I feel like my relationship with nature has become astranged. I find myself uncomfortable with sitting down in wet grass. I get grossed out when I step in guey mud. I shed a tear when my new pants get their first stain. Have us “big kids” become too entrenched in our own urban lives to only value nature as a vacation spot? This planet existed for millions of years as a raw landscape, and we should not punish ourselves by denying our own animalistic right to be at home in the forest.
I am a college student who is currently volunteering at a place called the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This organization focuses their attention on getting people back outdoors again, and appreciating the beauty that lies in our own natural landscape. Through my time spent at the center, I work humbly at my table on self-guideded projects. I sit in the corner of the room studying native plants, yet also observe the teachers leading field trips of elementary students through historic Washington Park. I have seen kids go totally crazy standing in line to get 10 feet out the door that leads to the oddyssey awaiting them. I saw in their own faces how excited they were to be walking out the door with trusty binoculars in hand, hoping to catch a glimpe of the elusive yet magical grey squirrel in their viewfinders.
When I saw them walk back through the door, dissappointed that their adventure was over so soon, I wondered to myself “why can’t that be me?” That particular day was cold and rainy, yet that never stopped any of those kids from risking hypothermia just to play outside. At the time I made a mental note to myself that I needed to relearn this, as silly as it might seem.
Since that day I pulled out my old pair of golashes. They are Christmas colored plaid and extremely ugly, yet they have done something for me that is way more liberating. I get to jump in puddles. I get to jump in murky puddles where you can’t tell how deep they go, and make the hugest splash in the world. This alone has enabled me to relive something from my childhood, I thought I had long since forgotten. A grass stain is a badge of honor and a pair of golashes will set you free.
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