Saturday, as has become my Memorial Day weekend tradition, I spent the afternoon in Piedmont Park at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. If you haven't been, you need to go. Atlanta is overloaded with free fun and this is one of our best events. It's always a bit transformational for me, but this year it was especially so. I can't effectively articulate what it fills me with, but my heart and soul are filled when I leave there every single time. If I need to describe to you the complete sense of peace a body feels while sitting in cool grass on a warm summer day as the sounds of horns and strings dance and float along the breeze, I'm afraid you'll never understand. That's fine if you don't. I do though and I'm sure that I'm a better man because of it.
Yesterday, from a shady blanket oasis I spied a group of kids rolling down a hill. Interject the sounds of children's laughter into this already idyllic tranquil scene and what you have is a moment of magic that will forever be etched on my brain. That statement will come as a shock to anyone who knows me and if I'm honest it shocks me a little too. For much of my life the playful squeals and joyous screams and unbridled laughter of a group of children has been a source of great anxiety for me, a disturbing inconvenience to be tolerated. What a dick, right? The upside is that this is changing for me almost daily. Maybe it's because I was such a serious introverted child that I can't make that connection in my memory. I don't think I was a sad kid necessarily, but I don't recall ever being overly expressive about much of anything, and certainly not about something as mundane and pointless as rolling down a hill. This is a true story that I had literally blocked out until yesterday. I assumed I had done the same thing as a kid and I'm sure I've agreed with others as they recount the simple joy of said hill rolling even though I didn't have a specific memory of it. Digging deeper into my mental archives however, I realized that I hadn't. I remember watching other kids roll down hills and thinking how stupid they looked. (What a weirdo, right? And again, what a dick.) Confronted with this startling realization, that I had in fact never rolled down a hill as a child, I felt overwhelmingly sad for six-year-old me. So yesterday when my friend asked if I wanted to roll down a hill, I jumped up and shouted an enthusiastic 'Yes!'
There's a funny thing about being a grown ass man...sometimes you don't realize just how tightly wound you are. As tired and overplayed a cliche as it is, it remains true that being an adult is an inconvenient pain in the ass a lot of the time. We all feel similar pressures, the same but different demands on our time...the world moves faster everyday and it's a full time job just to keep up. That's true for all of us. Knowing this fact all too well and simultaneously being faced with the option to literally unfurl my very self along that grassy slope was an opportunity that I couldn't let pass me by. How often in life, do we do that? How often do we let good judgement or responsibility or duty or any of a thousand other noble qualities prevent us from not only seeing, but seizing the very thing that will bring us joy? I've personally been guilty of letting the 'moment' (whatever that has ever meant) slip away at times I know and I'm sure you have as well. At some level, it truly is unavoidable. Try as I might and even though I like to convince myself that I live exactly in the 'is', I don't always. I was alive and living in the 'is' yesterday in every possible way and it's the best decision I've made in a very long time.
Having no personal experience to draw from, I spent a few minutes studying the mechanics of the actual thing as demonstrated by the gaggle of laughing rolling children on my right. It seemed easy enough so I walked to the top of the hill with as much giddy anticipation building inside of me as I can recall in recent memory. I lied down on my back, took a deep breath, rolled up the hill slightly and then threw my weight into the spin. What a sensation that first rotation was as the sky spun into the green earth and then back to the sky...twisting the blues and greens faster as I descended, swirling into a perfect blissful mix of dark and light. Feeling the cool of the grass and the warmth of the sun at the same time, alternating as I tumbled farther down until I came to rest at the base of the hill. Dizzy. Smiling. Triumphant...yes, triumphant. I know it's ridiculous and I'm cool with that but when I looked up all I could do was shoot two clenched fists into the air as if I'd just won the lottery!
I recaptured the ability to just let shit go, if only for a few brief idiotic seconds. In that moment, nothing else mattered. I didn't really care who saw this particular grown ass man making a fool of himself. I wasn't worried about the deadlines or the commitments or any of that other cloudy bullshit. I was free. As free and as unaffected as I have been in far too long. It was a good time. I collected my wits and went back to the top of the hill!
I hope that it's a beautiful day wherever you are in the world. I don't claim to be wise by any stretch but I do stumble upon good advice from time to time and here it is; if you find yourself beside a hill today, do not miss your chance to roll down it. That can mean whatever that may mean for you. Don't be afraid to just let it all go. BE ridiculous! Unfurl your inner 'you' and don't give a second thought to who might see. Don't you owe yourself that much?