When I was little, elementary school aged, and I arrived home from school(always on foot, we only lived a few blocks from the school)I’d drop my backpack and run right back outside.

All I carried on my little shoulders was a knapsack filled with a pencil box, and some paper folders. I was fortunate to have parents who refused to stifle my incurable curiosity, and love for the outdoors, so homework could always be done later, after dinner.

I just dropped my backpack and ran. I ran to my bike, or roller-blades, I ran to the park behind our house or to the neighbors house to play with the kids my age. I ran to the little roly-poly colony that I was building under the sparkly white rocks my dad had put out the year before. It was that easy for me.

Now it has become harder to shed what I carry with me through the day. And when I arrive home, it feels much more difficult to strip away the accumulated layers of muck and mire. I can’t peel my stiff clothes off fast enough, and I can’t cast my work bag far enough away. And I don’t run. I slink to the sofa and drop wearily to my back. I stare at the ceiling fan long enough to feel Catholic guilty about not finishing my daily chores.

But the other day I arrived home, and dropped my purse on the floor. I turned and walked right back out the door. I crossed the street and made my way to the ravine. I plucked acorns, and watched the young bucks chewing bark off the trees. I rescued wayward daddy long legs from venturing onto the bike path. I stayed outside much too late, and was covered in mosquito bites that itch like the dickens. I watched the stars prick their way through the deep black blue sky. And I listened to the crickets chirping in the thicket. And when I slipped quietly back inside, I carried nothing.