The sound of the lawn mower drifting through the open window brought a whisper of memories long forgotten. They aren’t real memories – more like a forgotten essence of moments in my being. Like the Summer breeze floating through the curtains, the wisp of time settles on my soul, reminding me of my journey and the continuity of my life.
50 years ago and several thousand miles away, I lay in my bedroom, listening to lawn mowers and laughter as I contemplated my childhood. Concepts of introspection and temperament were unknown to me, and usually misunderstood by our culture. It’s only been recently that society is discovering the blend of diversity that goes beyond race, gender, and ethnicity. Yet, my five year-old self was already exploring the depths of an introvert’s trajectory.
Summers would last forever as we slurped homemade popsicles, rode bikes with the neighbor kids, and played made-up games in perpetual, timeless abandon. But even at that young age, I sought alone time. Whether in my room, on top of the garage, or tucked away in some secret fort, I found time to contemplate the verities of life.
These childhood moments swept over me this afternoon and overwhelmed my ability to comprehend how I traveled from then to now, and from there to here. How did it happen and why are those moments are so fresh in my mind? How could 50 years pass yet at the core of my being, I am the same child? What happened to me as I traveled through time and space, to arrive so far from my place of birth? I’ve lived in seven states, experienced three distinct careers, and enjoyed dozens – if not hundreds – of friendships.
I don’t remember the details or particular colors and smells of my childhood house, but I remember the Summer breeze, the open windows, and the contentment of solitude. Like most, childhood represents a freedom that seems unattainable now. I tell my eight year-old that these are the best years of her life, but her pre-teen self silently defies my insight. Like me, she is eager to get on with her life and be the adult she thinks she is already.
My Dad urged me to not “wish my life away” – too eager to reach the next milestone that gives adult privilege. I didn’t know I was trading innocence for privilege; I didn’t know that privilege is purchased with responsibility; and I didn’t understand that I could never go back.
Today, for just a few moments, I realized a moment of that freedom. Though I am four times larger and 50 years older, it felt as if I were a five year-old, drinking in the essence of my life. Like the Summer breeze that floated into my room, and distant sound of the lawn mower, I was transported thousands of miles away and lost in time. For just a moment, I was free of the constraints of adulthood and lost in the essence of my soul.
My body may be older, my heart may be scarred, and my mind may be weary, but inside, at the core, I am the same little boy and the same person I continue to be.