castle

I’ve been thinking about the weather lately. This weekend, I’ll fly my plane to Atlanta to join my wife at a fitness event where she’s a presenter. When you pilot a small plane, the chances that weather may ground you are higher than when you travel commercially, and we all know how much weather can affect commercial flights. Anyone who has slept overnight in an airport knows this fact too well.

So I’ve been eyeing the forecasts, analyzing what the weather systems may do. But all this weather watching has led me to a paradoxical question:

Why is it when we were kids, we spent hours upon hours outdoors and rarely thought about the weather, while as adults, we spend the majority of time indoors and we obsess over it?

I think I know the answer. It’s not only making me rethink how I deal with travel arrangements, but life as well.

As kids, we lived in the present, accepting life as it arrived. Did we worry on Monday that it may rain on Saturday? No. And we were light-hearted and happy anyway. If a storm came, we dealt with it, finding something to do inside while stealing glances at the windows, watching the rain pelt the glass. But once the rain lifted and the sun poked through the thin spots in the clouds, we bolted outside, jumping off our porches even as the roof eaves still dripped water. Compare that to what we do now as adults: We study the weather five to ten days out. We concoct what-ifs. We double-check. We make contingency plans. In other words, we worry, and we’ve made it high art.

When I was eleven and lived in a rural area of North Carolina, my friends and I would dash out early on Saturday mornings to explore the mystical woods behind our houses. We built forts, shinnied up trees, romped through clearings, leapt creeks. Not once do I recall watching the forecast to learn if the weather was going to cooperate. Yes, I had a safety net called a “mom” that wouldn’t let me go if rain poured outside, but if the weather wasn’t bad, then the vast universe behind the house was fair game. If a rainstorm caught us by surprise after we left the houses, we ducked under the massive canopy of a willing oak. If the winds whipped up and thunder boomed nearby, we hightailed to a neighboring farm and huddled in a dark barn, letting the rain outside the open hayloft doors mesmerize us as it hurled down sideways. Whatever happened, we dealt with it then, never worrying about the what-ifs beforehand.

I realize planning is important as an adult. But I yearn for the old days when it wasn’t necessary. I miss setting out into the world, unaware of what the day may bring. I miss the discoveries we made on those spontaneous jaunts, most of them rich treasures of kid-dom: an ancient arrowhead that we were certain must have felled a crazed bear as it charged—a sun-baked, ivory bone that surely once belonged to a fierce dinosaur that had stomped through those very woods, maybe as recently as a couple weeks before—the remnants of a creek-side stone wall that must had been the base of a castle drawbridge used to fend off marauding invaders.

So, for my trip to Atlanta, I’m relaxing about what the weather may bring. If it’s bad, rest assured I will not fly myself. Besides, my mom won’t let me. Trust me on this.

Instead, I’ll find a cheap commercial flight, or even better, set off on a longer adventure and drive. Because if I drive, then I just might pull over along the way and stomp through some woods for old time’s sake, scouring the ground for long forgotten arrowheads, or searching for ancient castles. Let’s just hope I don’t pick the one spot on earth where the dinosaurs still roam.

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