We were made to run, and run fast. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you watch a kid sprint across a field. Fluidity, effortlessness, and grace.

I was reading on the grass outside the Almaden Library today and some kids were playing on the playground nearby. Watching them swinging on monkeybars and climbing around I thought, What a great work out! Arm strength, shoulder flexibility. All the swinging works your core... etcetc.

The contrast between children playing and adults exercising is striking. Kids (in general, maybe not most modern American children…) exercise and stay in shape because they play. Their lifestyle requires and breeds fitness. I thought, ‘Why don’t we adults just play more?’ And my immediate answer was, ‘It takes too much time.’ There just isn’t enough time to play enough so that we can stay in shape and do all the things responsible adults are supposed/expected to do. So we distill the physical aspect of recreational activities and go to the gym or run hard for 30-60 minutes a day, three to five times a week.

Why grow up at all? From a child’s perspective: Adults, being so busy doing all these unpleasant and responsible things we are obligated to do, stop running for the pure joy of getting somewhere fast, and stop lifting things for the joy of lifting (and perhaps throwing!) them, and instead run in circles or in place and lift metal weights only to put them back where they started. We do these things quickly and intensely so as to be efficient so that we can get back to doing all that stuff we really didn’t like in the first place. And to top it off, the whole point of the exercise, apart from looking decent, is so that we can extend our lives. But longer lives for what? To do more of that stuff!

As I sat on the grass looking at the surrounding mountains, I felt a tinge of guilt that I have never climbed one of those peaks. And when was the last time that my toes were cooled by the waters of our Northern California Pacific? Like Andrew, I suspect the children are wiser than we. Is it crazy to think that maybe the best use for strong arms is to climb trees? That strong legs were meant to take us places we never dreamed we’d go? And deep lungs to breathe fresh air on foreign beaches?

Bonus: This just bears repeating,

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously–no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner–no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.

– From The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis


~ by justinhong on February 8, 2011.

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