Two kids, young boys, shirtless, and as close to the likeness of stick men as you could get, were jumping their three foot long skateboards up a sizzling corner curb in our neighborhood. I smiled, shook my head, knowing that they’d be bruised and bleeding before the day was over. In an instant I was propelled back in time to the summers when we too were young and dumb.
Like the kids using their skateboards to defy gravity momentarily, we didn’t hide from the triple digit heat. I’m not sure what it is about being young that makes kids flirt with the element of gravity, but most of us did it, even if it was just peddling a bike and fighting to keep it upright.
I recall vividly the last days of school. Summer was magic. It was the time when life was as it should be for us. School was like being a bridled work horse cooped up in a corral. When that bell rang for the last time for that school year most of us didn’t walk into summer, we sprinted at full speed like a race horse bursting into a lush green meadow.
Despite the sweltering heat, we used the gift of summer to climb mountains, scoffing at gravity, and jump into lakes from dizzying heights. We’d ride bikes, hitchhike, or skateboard to get there. Once in the big city it was doing flips off anything close to pools or jumping off roofs, risking hitting the concrete if gravity won the battle of the space in-between. Those were the pools of the privileged and well to do… when they weren’t home. We called it pool hopping. We figured fences were for dogs and adults.
Bumps, bruises, bleeding and stitches were just part of living the life we loved. Taking risks, at least to one degree or another, was part of enjoying the gift of life.
Then we grew up and the words and the urging of the elders began to mold us into their image; being afraid to take risks and live in fear. It’s one thing to become wise, it’s another to live this life in fear.
Fear is for the lost and seeking.
Having had so many summers that have come and gone like months and days, it’s easy to forget the magic of each one, the gift that they really are.
I’m guilty, like most of us, of complaining about the heat from time to time, of living in fear and dread. Sure, it’s not comfortable for us in this part of the world this time of year. We all live with adversity in and out of all seasons of life, but summer is a season of life to be cherished all the same. Kids get that. We used to get that, but then we were gifted with so many that we began to take them for granted. Kids don’t. And yet we call them young and dumb…