As the sun sunk toward the horizon yesterday, my kids played in the backyard with the neighbors. Oh, friends, it was a glorious display of play: uninhibited digging and running and gathering and exploring. I loaded the dishwasher overcome with the sweet realization that even their shouting is much more pleasant as it wafts into the house from a distance than when it's coming directly from the room where I'm sitting.
This is what a little fresh air can do. It shifts perspective.
Nearly all the work that I do on a daily basis, beyond the time I spend in the classroom, involves paperwork and being on the computer. There's a continual ebb and flow of paperwork (distribute, collect, evaluate, return) and email (check, read, respond).
Progress is made, of course, but it's mostly indicated by a check on a to-do list. I think this is why I long for visible progress in other areas in my life, why I take such simple yet profound pleasure in manual tasks like cutting the grass, painting a room, or organizing a closet. This was once one way; Look, now it's another!
So, yesterday, when the sun was still warm before dinner, I walked through the yard gathering sticks, raking leaves, and cleaning winter debris. My husband started a fire in our fire pit and we burned brush. Somehow, as the leaves crinkled and branches smoldered in the fire, I saw life with more clarity.
I wasn't racing the clock, or staring into a screen, or striving in any way. The physical movement, the sunshine, the dirt under my fingernails, the smell of overturned earth -- all of it -- felt like a gift from God, a reminder that spring arrives, that newness comes, that winters do end, that progress is made.
This is what a little fresh air can do. It encourages the soul.
Continual confinement within the walls of the house and the cooped-up absorption with small, indoor matters is forgotten when I'm plotting the garden, or noticing the breeze in my hair, or reminding my three-year-old to not jump head-first off the swing set, versus jumping head first off the back of a couch.
I'm pretty sure that getting outside makes me a better mother and a calmer person.
This is what a little fresh air can do: everything.
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