Always An Adventure
June 30, 2013
Du Page, IL
Thought for the day: how often do we speed past somewhere in our hurry to get to our next destination? And where has it gotten us?
By the time I finished fifth grade, I weighed only forty pounds. My mother, a single woman who inhumanly long hours to support her five children after her divorce was negligent at best, abusive at worst. I was the lucky one with three older sisters remaining at home after my parents’ divorce who played various roles normally assumed by both mother and father, while my brother (a few years older than myself) and I just played.
We played hard, having little supervision, engaging in rousing rounds of garbage dumpster hide and seek, shopping cart bumper cars, sewer pipe spelunking. Whatever we could find to explore, we did, and we did it with vigor, riding our bikes from one destination to the next, never quite sure where our destination would be, but finding it along the way.
I was, as what an older generation would identify me, a “scrapper.” Tough enough to figure my way out of a jam, tiny enough to squeeze my way into anything, and uncontrolled enough to have to hone the aforementioned skills to an art.
In addition to playing hard, my brother and I read hard. Reading programs nor community or school outreach encouraged us to read; just our need to escape our own meager worlds. My escape was fairy tales, the Bible, and mysteries. His were books on theology, which may explain why he is pursuing his third Master’s at yet another religious school.
Yesterday was our all-school reunion. Of the majority of our peers, we have the highest degrees, travelled abroad more frequently, and smile more broadly. Our self-directed play and intellectual exploration taught us how to direct our own lives, facing obstacles with the same defiance we once directed toward authority figures or scornful peers.
Last night, as I rode down the Great Western Trail, I learned a few more things: trees create the most delightful tunnel I have ever been in, and crushed limestone glows beautifully in the dark, seconded in magnificence only to the fireflies that felt like kisses as they brushed glowingly against my skin as I pedaled to my next destination, one chosen with the same arbitrariness as those I had in my youth.
According to a storybook I once read, a will-o-wisp will light one’s way to happiness and good fortune. If that is the case, because I have taken the time to slow down and watch for them, I know I am at least on the right path, with the glow of the fire flies showing me the way.