(Please take a moment to listen to the song by For King and Country)
My son text me this morning the usual “Whatcha doin’”, and of course, I was “Doin’ nuffin.” Then he asked if I would like to go for a “hike” with him and my granddaughter, Hannah, at the park. Of course, I don’t consider the park a “hike” per se, more like a meaningless stroll, but I agreed just to spend time with him. I asked if it was ok to bring along my friend, Charles, and he agreed. Charles and I had been planning to go work out at the gym, but being outdoors sounded so much more fulfilling.
So off we went to the park, and all the way to the back of it. This park borders the Rillito River. For my own purposes I call it a “wash” since it rarely has any water in it, and aren’t rivers supposed to have water? However, as many times as I have been at this park in the past 40 years, I never knew that the river could be accessed from the park. So I thought, this could be an adventure. My heart has been miserably in need of an adventure.
At first, when I saw the steep incline that led down to the river bottom, I was scared. I have broken my leg twice, injured my back, dislocated my shoulder, all on the left side, and I tend to be a little off balance, you might say. At 63 years old, I have been told to “be careful” so many times, it feels like at any moment I am sure to injure myself again. But my strong son had an answer for this. He said, “Just put your hands on my shoulders and I will lead you down. “ And so I did, setting off on what would be a most beautiful adventure.
Once we got down the incline, I saw that some kids had been playing there, and had made a maze. Also Hannah, having arrived there before us, had drawn two huge feet, indicating that Big Foot was around somewhere. Something that had been dead inside me forever began to stir.
Hannah said we should follow the tracks, my son said we should go the opposite way, and indicated where a nice well-travelled trail led. We went the trail at first, but then the child inside me woke up. The men were behind Hannah and I, having a deep discussion about theories of evolution and the countering theological debate that ensued lasted the entire time we were there. That left Hannah and I to pick our own path. And pick it we did! Off through the brush to find the bamboo we could see growing in the distance, and down the sandy wash toward what appeared to be a campsite. Then as we were weaving back and forth through the brush, we came upon a fort. That special kind of fort built by ten year old minds with the only tools available, sticks and a dead tree. Hannah and I made our way up to it, and went inside, in spite of the “NO TRESPASSING” sign that was crudely stuck on the branches. There, within the circle of the fort walls was a fire pit. Now I was really on a roll. But it was time to head back to the car.
Hannah and I headed off our own way, through the brush, down a fence line, wondering what we would find and laughing. The debate continued on behind us, as we picked the path, through stickers, brush, dead branches and sand. I found a marble and gave it to Hannah. We found some old sticks. And I found something else.
Over the course of the hour and a half that we were there, I was 12 again. Running wild in the best of two worlds, with my brother John in the Fountain River and with Hannah on the Rillito river, with no boundaries. In that brief time, I found a part of me that I thought had died. The part that is still a child and wants to explore and find adventure in life.
I am sure my doctor will have a hissy fit when I tell him about it. So maybe I won’t. Or maybe, just maybe, I will tell him that the most important part of being human is what is inside, and then tell him to go find someone else to plague with restrictions and medication. After all, God made me to Run Wild, Live free, and Love strong. And I can’t do that cooped up in some box.
Next is the Zip line!