Thursday, May 31, 2012

Never Never Land

As the end of May approaches, I can almost feel the excitement and anticipation for summer in the air when I pass a school. You can literally see the joy flood out of the school bus doors when they open at a stop. The end of the school year approaches for thousands of kids and with it the end of a tight schedule. The hours of solving math equations, dissecting frogs, studying US history and gossiping are now replaced with playing capture the flag, eating freeze pops, having sleep overs- MID WEEK, and running around barefoot, chasing fireflies.
Top of Pikes- Boulder Hopping

Cooling off after a 20 mile jaunt

Driving down to Mantiou Springs this past Memorial Day weekend, passing numerous schools and buses, I found it impossible to not reflect on my own end of school year experiences and how exciting the time right before summer used to be. I could remember everyone getting their yearbooks signed (“Keep in touch!”  “TTYL” “Have a fun summer!”) and talking about how awesome and relaxing life will be without the toils of school. Talk of vacations, camps and pool parties. All pleasant thoughts to keep my mind busy, especially in holiday weekend traffic. Though at some point during the weekend, a thought hit me like a slammer hitting a stack of pogs. Maybe it was the thought of my mom saying, “You’ll ruin your dinner!” as I ate spoonfuls of peanut butter at 5:34 (Typically a Ruland Family dinner hour). Or maybe it was when Brandon and I were playing leap frog, from boulder to boulder, on top of Pikes Peak. Or perhaps it was when I was singing along to Britney Spears and Back Street Boys. I’m not sure what it was, but I realized that not much has changed since grade school. I’m just a kid with a bank account now.

After a Pikes Peak run
Lost Creek Jig

I probably don’t look much older than I did 10 years ago, but I have in fact graduated college, gotten a ‘real’ job, have rent and bills to pay, but my sense of wonder and excitement has yet to dissipate. My pogs and slammers have been replaced with money. I trade gels as if they were playing cards. The slap bracelets (which I’m told have been banned due to the severe lacerations they caused) have morphed into GPS watches. My races have grown in distance- before it was from mailbox to the tree. Now it’s expanded to 50 mile out and back/lollipop/loops… I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that work is just another term for school- as soon as that bell rings, or the clock hits quitting time, its time to go home, hit the trails or play in the mountains- Done sitting inside, starring out the window waiting for recess to begin.

Growing up is inevitable. At least getting older is. My co workers tell me that all the time- especially when they hear about the 60 miles I ran in the mountains. They tell me that their knees just can’t do that kind of stuff anymore. When I hear this, I can’t help but think (hope!) I’ll still be this way 32 years from now, still plotting my next escape or adventure. Who knows, maybe I’m just some kind of Tinkerbell, lost in Peter Pan’s Never Never Land, avoiding reality, because the alternative is a bigger and better adventure. I don’t rightly know why I’ve managed to hold on to my sense of wonder while others have lost theirs. I try not to think too hard about it, perhaps so I don’t tarnish it. But I do know that I still get excited every May for the approaching summertime. Because I still run around outside with my friends- only now my playground is just a bit bigger.
So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land.

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