I’m sitting here in front of my computer sipping on some coffee while I think back on the fondest memories of my life. As a youngster many hours were spent after school riding my dirt bike in the woods or cutting trails. I think of all the times I played catch outside with Dad, vacations and hikes with my family. Wonderful days were spent in and on the water, hanging at the beach, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and Grandpa, Taking walks, biking, climbing, snow sledding down our giant hill into the woods with my sister and countless other memories fill my mind. It’s clear that most of my greatest memories take place outdoors.
Most of my childhood was spent outdoors. I can still feel the anxiety of trying to finish my homework as fast as I could (albeit half assed) in order to go outside and play. Sitting in a chair was and still is torture. School was spent staring out the window wishing I could be let free. Recess was my favorite part of school. In high school my favorite part of the day was leaving school and heading to my friend Ryan’s house where a group of us would meet up and play basketball or football nearly every night. After high school I found myself stuck from 4pm – Midnight at a factory making sheetrock. Generally I worked 6 or 7 days a week. Not only that but I was also going to school at a community college from 10am – 3pm on the weekdays. Time spent inside had me feeling trapped. I was making great money but had no time to enjoy it. At this job, one of my duties was to place 3,000lb – 10,000lb rolls of paper onto the line. These rolls would make up the top and bottom of the sheetrock can find hung on your walls. Days were spent working in the paper room and planning out my night (by choosing the size of paper rolls) around the sunset. If the sunset was at 8:30 I would work it so I put new rolls in around 8pm and could then go upstairs and sneak out the door onto the roof. Many nights I spent sitting on top of the building looking over the fields of Iowa watching the sun go over the horizon. I would dream of being somewhere else enjoying the sunset. I would dream of a day when I wouldn’t be trapped inside.
Eventually I quit the sheetrock business and headed off to Iowa State University to study Graphic Design. I still remember my first day of school. After the rush of excitement from visiting all my classes for the first time, I was walking across campus surrounded by young excited fellow students and I looked at my phone to see what time it was. 4:00pm. I thought of all my friends at the factory just starting their shift. Literally (I’m not making this up) as I was walking around campus the sun hit me right in the face. I felt the warmth and I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and happiness. I felt giddy and my eyes started to well up with emotion. I realized that the afternoon hours were once again mine! FREEDOM! (thanks for the Scottish accent Mel)
It’s crazy how quickly we can find ourselves spending most of our time indoors. We all know how amazing we feel the more time we spend outside, but yet we get lolled into a life in front of the t.v., or inside a shopping mall, cubical, coffee shop, or wherever. When we are outside we play with our phones or tablets. We miss the sunrises and sunsets. We run away from the rain. We cuss the wind. Complain when it’s too hot or freezing cold outside. We forget how happy we were as children running around outside, finding interesting things in the grass, chasing our pet dog around with a stick or the feeling of riding our bike through a mud puddle. We forget how exciting it was to see the first snow of the season. This meant forts, snowmen, and snowball fights were about to happen!
With all of the 2017 resolutions dancing around of losing weight, making more money, learning a new skill or whatever. I just want to get outside more. It’s not a resolution, it’s just a life choice. It isn’t about 2017, it’s about the rest of my life, however long that may be. If I live to be 100 years old I want to have 68 more years of memories spent outside with the people I love.
Thanks for Reading
Written by Dan McCreight
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