I have very fond memories of a handful of summers I spent growing up in Kansas. I lived in a pretty idyllic, self-contained community called Lake Quivira. Lake Quivira was really more of a glorified pond as it was roughly four and a half miles around. I know this because I used to run around the circumference of it many times years later.
It was a veritable paradise (sans the stifling heat/humidity) for any kid who was remotely inclined towards being outdoors. I could easily hop on my bike and pedal for 15 minutes and join my friends at the beach.
Later in the day, I could ride across the street and knock tennis balls back and forth. As afternoon evolved into early evening, I'd likely end up at my friend RT's place a few hours later for quality time on his trampoline.
I'd usually have to be home by 5:30 or 6 for dinner, but the day was usually mine and there was no real plan or structure to any of it. There were no defined goals associated with anything I was doing. Truly, the day revolved around unstructured play.
Looking back now, I have many regrets about these summers. I regret that I didn't appreciate it more. I regret that I didn't have one more summer like this....or just one more day like this.
My life now is so frequently structured and controlled. Appointments, meetings, obligations, commitments, etc. are what effectively rule my life. In theory, I could go on sabbatical and maybe recreate a summer like what I had as a child.
But, as much as I'd like to indulge the inner child in this way, I don't know if I could jump on a trampoline the way I used to. I suspect I wouldn't handle getting double bounced quite as adeptly as I did at age 13. Regrettably, RT passed away several years ago so even spending time with him isn't really an option.
Remarkably, despite the fact that it's been 20+ years, I don't really feel that much older. Sometimes I do...usually after a solid day or two of the aforementioned commitments and obligations. But, what keeps me young at heart is that window of time every day when I can run.
While admittedly there usually is a restriction on how far I can go most days now, every once in awhile an opportunity to go wherever I want presents itself and it's in these moments that I'm reminded that the kid is still alive and perhaps it's these very moments that keep me young.
Recent research has indicated that running does in fact slow the aging process. I can't reclaim my youth, but I can certainly forestall the onset of aging and every mile provides an opportunity to indulge said youth. I run because youth is wasted on the young.