I am Alive. What a Beautiful Gift.

There’s a meme going around social media sites asking readers something like, “If you remember playing outside until the street lights came on, or, If you remember running barefoot in the yard and drinking out of the garden hose, or squishing the orange dot into the margarine that came in a bag…. then you had a great childhood. (or something like that)

We baby-boomers, we like to tell our offspring, had it good. Freedom to play outside without fearing strangers. Freedom to go to the park on our own, play on death-defying carousel thingies with metal bars without fearing we’d puke (’cause that would be so cool anyway!) or chip a tooth on the wooden teeter-totter with the metal handlebar – which I did but nobody seemed phased by the blood running out of my mouth as I ran across the cement to the swings that had metal seats and rusted chains, determined I’d finally be able to pump so hard I went all the way around over the top.

Without a parent or other adult around, there was no one around to tell me to stop — and I definitely wasn’t going to listen to my five years-older-than-me-brother who’d jumped off the teeter-totter while I was midair and precipitated my hard-landing and chipped tooth.

We baby-boomers had it good.

I wonder sometimes, where were our parents? Why did they give us so much freedom?

I don’t believe it wasn’t because they didn’t care, or thought the world was a super-safe place to be. They’d just come through WW2. How could they think that? How could they believe there weren’t dangers out there?

What I’ve come to believe is that they were war-weary. Tired-out from deprivation and rationing, tired-out by fearing would they or their loved ones get through it at all. Tired-out by wondering would it ever end.

And when it did end, they wanted to believe there was nothing to fear and so… they let their offspring, we the baby-boomers, run free as if we had not a care in the world as they continued to do what they’d always done, take care of business.

Busy building families, rebuilding towns and cities, homes and lives, busy trying to bury the past beneath the memories of all they’d seen and lost, they didn’t have time to go to the park or watch our every move or schedule our every second.

They were in survival mode. Mental health, PTSD, Trauma-informed practices weren’t yet a thing. All they could do was keep surviving.

Covid has led me to this awareness.

As the world struggles to open up again and we learn to adjust to living with its presence amongst us like a memory that refuses to fade-away, I am feeling the angst of wanting to let go of caution and run like that childhood me as if I have not a care in the world.

I am feeling the desire to pretend there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Fact is, there is a lot in this world to fear – but…

Fear. Worry. They change nothing and, have an innate ability to grow stronger the more I give into their stealthy presence.

Running barefoot in the grass, lying on my back in the prairie grasses at the top of a hill, arms and legs spread wide simply to feel the sun and earth bathe me in glorious warmth. Singing my heart out amidst the trees or standing outside the grocery store singing a made-up song into the phone to my granddaughter simply to hear her laugh and not caring who hears. Throwing and smashing eggs on the rocks beneath the bridge as a train goes rumbling overhead and screaming at the top of my lungs…. now those things do change everything.

Because, in those things I am reminded, I am alive.

And isn’t that a beautiful gift.

15 thoughts on “I am Alive. What a Beautiful Gift.

  1. What a beautiful vivid trip down the memory lanes of our childhood, thank you. No matter where one lived way back in the 1950/60s we can relate to your words.

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  2. Fear, in moderation, is a constant in the life of every critter and every form of life – and the tension of uncertainty and a need to be wary is essential for all of us. Except children who are playful – until we teach them to be careful, to be scared of risks because we want them to be safe; sadly, I believe, we probably protect too much and educate not enough. And, in so doing, we place people more at risk vis-a-vis teaching them to stay safe. We know how. We teach kids to cross the street, and then we go away and let them cross alone, trusting they’ll be safe. It’s not 100%, but that kind of teaching instills responsibility and self-reliance. It seems clearer now, at his end of the trail …

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    • I so agree Mark — there’s a whole other part to this post I’m working on – which has to do with GenXers and where our over-protectiveness as baby-boomer parents impacted them… more to come — it is nice to feel the urge to write again, btw! 🙂 Who knows! I might even get back into my studio!

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      • Good to know – glad you are getting your sea-legs back. The stormy seas of life/risk and the risk-reward continuum of everything we do. I too have been ‘away from my novel’ too long, but got inspired recently at Kelly Kaur’s book launch to get back to at least ‘touching’ it daily and now, for nearly two weeks, that’s what I’ve been doing – and it’s starting to flow again

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  3. What a gift indeed, I am alive today! Your post is ever so thoughtful and beautiful as always. Presently we do err on the side of too careful while our parents did the opposite. Covid had brought similar wariness and also yes there are real dangers in the world to worry of. perhaps it will sharpen our awareness and intention as a whole.

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