Being Like Children and Wildflowers

On hot summer days, children play in the lake from dawn until dusk. They do cannonballs off the neighbor’s high wooden deck shouting, “Woo Hoo!” They splash around on paddle boards and rafts without a care in the world. They endlessly climb in and out of the water, running, jumping and swimming with wild abandon.

They remind me of wildflowers that grace winding country roads ~ so natural and charming. Yellow black-eyed Susan, Queen Anne’s lace, blue bachelor’s button and purple coneflowers dance and sway in the summer breeze like happy children.

It was Thoreau who told us, “All good things are wild and free.” While I appreciate formal gardens with highly-cultivated flowers, clean lines and perfect symmetry, they are more like rigid adults. Adults who tug at their swimsuits, hold in their tummies and smooth down windblown hair. Adults who are so self-conscience they miss all the fun.

I want to be more like children and wildflowers. They remind me to loosen up a little, to be more carefree, to accept myself just the way nature intended. They encourage me to stop metaphorically pruning, weeding and digging in quite so hard and just be me. After all, I don’t want to be a bonsai tree. I want to be a wildflower.

I want to swing high into the air with my feet kicked out and my head tilted back. I want to make a chain of clover and wear it in my hair. I want to lay in the grass and watch my thoughts roll by like clouds.

Wherever summer leads you, take time to notice children playing at the park, on neighborhood streets, amusement parks and swimming pools. Be inspired by their curiosity, imagination and lightheartedness. Let their unguarded laughter and movement take you back to your own childlike nature.

Like flowers, children deserve to freely grow in safe and nurturing environments where they can preserve their bright beauty and fresh innocence for as long as possible. I think adults would better serve each other and our world if we could regain some of our guileless naivety and authenticity.

This morning I picked a wild daisy from the woods and put it in a little vase in the kitchen. I slipped on my swimsuit without any self-criticism. Then I ran down to the lake and leapt off the dock with an enthusiastic, “Woo Hoo!” §

Turtle Logic

An enormous sea turtle appeared on the dusky beach with a helpful push from high tide. Word spread quickly among beachcombers taking an evening stroll. A crowd gathered to get a glimpse of the gentle giant who batted her large, sleepy eyes as if seeing alien beings for the first time.

The loggerhead laboriously planted her fore flippers and pushed her beak-like mouth in the thick sand to slowly pull herself forward with one purpose in mind. No telling what she had gone through to reach this particular spot on Hilton Head Island to lay her eggs.

Most of the onlookers remained a respectful distance and watched the beautiful creature in awe, but others moved closer and closer. They clamored over one another to take selfies. A dog’s owner allowed it to jump and yap furiously a foot from the turtle’s thick, calloused face.  A young couple actually attempted to perch their baby on the turtle’s three-foot long carapace. Their plan for the perfect Instagram post was thwarted by a tiny but mighty woman with brown leathered skin wearing a Volunteer Sea Turtle Patrol T-shirt.

The turtle’s sad expression was one of exhaustion, stress, and recognition that she is an endangered species. She stopped moving and seemed to stoically wait for the will to push past the noise and narcissism. Sea turtles can’t retract into their shells, though she looked like she wanted to. At last, she stopped struggling, gave in, and allowed several big waves take her back out to sea.

Sea turtles undergo epic oceanic journeys and return to the exact spot they were born to mate and lay their own eggs. With this kind of wisdom, it’s likely she chose to return to the ocean out of sagacity, not defeat.

I’ve felt a lot like that turtle lately.

I squeeze my eyes open and shut, not quite believing what I see.

I shake my head slowly from side to side, not quite believing what I hear.

And sometimes, I go into my proverbial shell and just let it all crash over me.

It’s been nearly a month, but I still think of that loggerhead sea turtle. I hope she’s happily swimming through tranquil deep blue water fully recovered from the world’s madness. I wish I could send out a bottle carrying her a message of sympathy and solidarity ~ I’ve been there, my friend. We’ve all been there. Sometimes the wisest, most logical thing to do is quietly retreat to regroup and regain our strength and sense of self. Be well, beautiful turtle, be well.  §