I watched a stand-up comic on Netflix, Bill Burr and in part of his routine he says
"You're a kid, your whole life is awesome. It's awesome, right? You had no money, no ID, no cell phone, no nothing, no keys to the house. You just ran outside into the woods. You weren't scared of nothing. I challenge you to do that as an adult. All your IDs, all your credit cards - just run out of the house with no phone, turn the corner where you can't see your house, and not have a full on panic attack."
and you know, that really struck a chord with me. Because when I was growing up in the late 50's early 60's we were almost feral children. We went out the door in the morning and disappeared until dark, with no adult knowing where we were. We had no way to get in touch with anyone, or anyone with us, and of course we had no identification. We never thought twice about it.
I suppose because of that up-bringing I still don't own a cell phone. I drive all over the place with no phone. I like being unreachable, enjoy it when I am out of touch. I figure I can work my way out of whatever situation I might find myself in - and after nearly 64 years of doing that, I've not failed to yet.
But I know a lot of adults that have a full blown panic attack if they realize they are a block from their house without their phone. Want to see a screeching U-Turn?
Yesterday I decided I wanted to paddle up the river in my kayak. I don't often use it, but I've been having a foul week and thought an exploration trip would be the ticket. Once I launched the canoe I suddenly felt 6 years old again. I was going away from the adults, from everyone, and I had no ID, no phone, no dog tags, no money, no nothing. Me, a pair of shorts and t-shirt and sandals, the kayak and some drinking water. I did tell my wife I was going up river - she decided it was a good time to get a pedicure. We had no idea who would get home first - but of course she had a phone, a wallet full of plastic, etc...
I paddled way up the river. My limiting factor wasn't going to be daylight - I could find my way home in the dark just fine. My limiting factor was going to be when I got good and ready to turn back, and not before. Hours passed as I slowly worked my way up the river, against the slight current, but with a hard wind behind me. My arms didn't get tired, hardly at all. I wasn't stroking for speed mind you, but only once every 30 minutes or so did I stop to rest my arms - and that was primarily because I had to get out and drag the kayak through shallow water anyway.
It was awesome. I was free. It was just me. I'd even gotten off without my dog following. Just me and the trees and the wind and the wind blown water and the clouds scudding across the sky. There were birds to watch and listen to, and no end of places where a deer might appear, though none did that day. I spied turtles and snakes and jumping fish and a cow. I stopped and sat and drank water and tilted my head to the skies. I got a bit of sunburn on my legs. It was glorious. No tensions at all. That depressing stuff was way behind me, back there in time and space. It had no hold on me.
I felt free, just like I did when I was 6 years old and would wander off exploring the world all day long, miles from home, completely out of contact and on my own. I even fell down and scraped my knee. At first I was a bit non-plussed, then I realized that I haven't fallen and scraped my knee like that since I was a kid - and I burst out laughing in delight at the scratches. It was glorious. I limped a bit for a while, and loved every limp.
When I eventually turned back hours and miles later, it was with a feeling of contentment and peace. I had found my center again - I had found my 6 year old's center at that. And here I am, 63 1/2 years old.
And that 1/2 was important again.