Do you remember the simple joys of childhood?
Do you remember lying on your back and watching the clouds float by?
Do you remember the way freshly mowed grass smelled when you were lying on the ground?
Do you recall the smell of earth that was one of the perfumes of childhood?
Maybe you liked to dig in dirt. Maybe you rolled in it. Or, maybe you were just content to sit on the ground and be aware of every smell, every sound the way the sun felt on your face and the way a breeze tickled you.
Remember those days?
Remember how, as a child, we could soak in every sensation because there were few demands on our day. It could stretch out before us and we could be as idle as we wanted.
When we grew older, we realized we were never idle as children even when we were lying on the ground doing nothing more than watching clouds float by. No, we were doing something important.
We were enjoying the simple days of childhood, days we remember with fondness and longing.
Why can't we do that anymore?
Well, maybe you can, but I can't. At least not for long.
Today, I wanted to clear my head as I went from one writing assignment to another. So I abandoned my computer and headed for my favorite place outdoors.
I didn't have to go any farther than the settee on my lanai to be filled with total relaxation. Within minutes I had emptied my mind, closed my eyes, and just reveled in the way a mild breeze kissed my face.
It was then that I remembered childhood and how I could find so much pleasure in doing nothing.
I could occupy myself with studying a sturdy tree or watching a bee. I didn't always have to be doing an activity to be happy. Back then, I didn't know what the word productive meant and I didn't have to know. I only had to know how to enjoy being a kid.
It was such a good feeling recalling those childhood joys as I "did nothing" on my porch.
I said to myself, "the heck with writing. I'm just going to stay here and savor the day, celebrating all my senses."
For a while, it worked, especially when I deliberately kept my eyes shut. If I opened them, I knew I would see the sea grape leaves in the yard that have to be raked up or the empty bird feeder that has to be filled. Or, I would see something else I "should" be doing.
By blocking out the world with closed eyes, I listened to the sweet sound of birds calling to each other.
I heard the way the bamboo trees next door played their own symphony. If I didn't open my eyes I wouldn't have to see the way those strong trees were pushing against the fence, breaking the old wood. I wouldn't see the leggy plants that need to be cut back.
No, I told myself. Just sit here and savor life.
But when I inhaled deeply, I smelled gasoline from the pressure cleaner that was never put away.
Oops. My eyes open at that thought and I start seeing what else has to be done. Then I think about the unwritten story I have to do and the business phone calls I have to make.
Soon, all too soon, I'm back in the house. Back to my chores. Back to everyday life.
Why, I wonder, can't I idle away time? Why can't I do what I did as I kid and just lie on my back watching the clouds go by?
Why does my mind have to get clogged with things I should do?
I don't punch a time clock anymore. No one will beat me or berate me if I just do nothing. So why don't I?
My daughter Maria says anyone who doesn't have to work all week can find time for anything. "If you claim you can't 'do nothing' that's only because you chose not to," she says.
I think it has to do with the habits of a lifetime. When I worked and had a lot of responsibilities, I thought every second counted. "Doing nothing" was out of the question, except right after dinner.
That's when I gave myself permission to sit in a rocker on the porch, listening to the sound of my backyard waterfall. It totally relaxed me and gave me energy for the rest of the night.
I don't program leisure into my days anymore because, in retirement, the entire day is supposed to be leisure, or so I'm told.
Can you just do nothing except savor life?
Can you open all your senses and truly "feel the day?"
I've given myself a new assignment. My assignment is to find moments in my week when I do absolutely nothing except sit still and open my senses to the beauty of life around me.
I want to be like a kid again. I want to be that "big kid" who knows how to appreciate the sight of clouds floating by without feeling the need to grab a camera or do something else.
More often, I want to be still and just savor life.
Some of the simple joys of childhood don't have to end.