I headed out at 9:30 this morning, to meet with some kids who live a couple of towns away. Slinging my backpack over one shoulder, I slipped my feet into my favorite plastic beach sandals and headed down the stairs.
Once out the door, I walked the short concrete pathway to the main sidewalk and then headed in the direction of the side lot where my car was parked. Normally, I’d have cut across the lawn, but I noticed that the grass was still covered in dew. I’ll get my feet wet, I thought, and the bottom of my jeans. Better to stay on the sidewalk.
Just then, some of the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson’s Because of You came to mind (good video if you choose to watch, but tough — be forewarned):
Because of you, I never stray too far from the sidewalk.
Because of you, I stay on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.
Thing is, we never cared as kids if our feet or the bottoms of our pants got wet. Or dirty, for that matter. I’m certain that, back then, most of us slid our little black-soled feet right underneath our sheets at bedtime on countless occasions without so much as a thought. So why do wet toes give us pause now?
It’s certainly not dangerous to get our feet wet, as evidenced by presumably daily showering. There are no direct medical repercussions. And most of us haven’t lost so much balance that a damaging slip-and-fall would be imminent.
Pants and feet dry, as they always did — and rather quickly on a nice summer morning.
It’s not particularly uncomfortable — if perhaps not what we are now used to, now that we are so mature and refined and “all grown up.”
So what’s the deal? Wet grass, for the most part, hasn’t changed over the years. Clearly then, it is something about us that has changed. What is it that leaves us hesitant to “stray too far from the sidewalk”?
I keep coming back to the simple idea that, somewhere along the line as we get older, we buy into the notion that being an adult means taking ourselves much too seriously.
Soon enough, that grass will begin to brown. The ground will harden. Ice and snow will cover it over. Why wouldn’t we take every opportunity to run through it while it is soft and cool beneath our feet?
I took my sandals off, bent to snatch them up, and then not only walked across the lawn, but scuffed my feet through that grass, intent on getting my soles dirty and my pants wet. (For the record, the dirt washed off with a little soap and water, and the pants have fully recovered.)
Of course, this is about more than just feet and grass. In continually making the choice to take ourselves a bit less seriously, we allow ourselves to fully experience life — instead of merely skirting around the edges of it.