This books holds a picture of children jumping off a rock into the lake. This is the picture that captivates my boys. It’s not the drawings of the hurricane that rolls in across the lake. It’s always the rock. Mesmerized by the freedom to jump off such a high cliff.
Great classic books like this one means different things to you as you grow older. My favorite passage today is close to the end:
“As the days grow shorter and shorter there are fewer and fewer boats on the bay, until at last only the fishing boats are left. The wind blows brisk from the northwest, rustling the birch leaves. The ferns change from green to yellow to brown. The robins are gone from the lawn and the garden. The swallows have flown from their nests … to take their places, migrating birds from the north stop off to rest on their way south. The crows and the gulls fly over, fussing and feuding. And the hummingbirds visit the petunia patch.”
Children notice this change — but we don’t have the words to express or understand what we’re seeing just yet. As we grow older, we take the change for granted. We do notice the leaves changing colors, their fall, and we feel the chill. But there are a magnitude of shifts in tiny events like the hummingbirds, the slight shift in the wind, the sparse fishing boats, and the spreading quiet that fills the city pool. If asked, we’d say “Oh yeah, I see that.”
Reading these words now, I remember there was a time when I was free to observe all of these changes. Then, I was still small enough to bury my head into my Mother’s knees. That universal signal that all children give when they’ve had enough — and it’s time to leave them alone. There was a time when I could stand still and watch it all happen, the unfolding of fall, and know that for today, nothing in my routine was going to change. Too young for back to school, too young to worry about finding a winter coat, too young to realize that anything was going to change. Ever. Freedom.
Now, I participate in the change, with my own tasks for Fall, my head full of details I can’t afford to forget. Sometimes, too busy to observe.
“All personal change begins with the power of objective observation,” The Tao of Physics.
For more takes on freedom, visit Picture This.