June 11, 2012 by Susie Finkbeiner
My kids love running around in the grass without shoes on. In the mornings, the blades are moist with dewdrops. Afternoons, they are full of critters to find…those roly poly things, moths (that my kids INSIST are butterflies), worms. And, in the evenings, the grass is cooler on those little piggies. Besides, there is just some kind of wonder about being outside past your bedtime. Right?
When my daughter was a toddler, I feared that bare footed adventures would result in banged up toes and blistered soles. What if she stepped on a bee? Or a piece of glass? Or, good heavens, what if she stepped in the pile of dog poop we missed?
And, yet, she’s always loved stomping around, the skin on her feet stained green by the grass. Arms flailing and swinging around her as she leaps and twirls and runs. Dark brown hair wiping around her. Sparkle in the eyes. Smile so wide it might just change my life.
When my daughter has her toes in the grass, she is full of joy. She is living life fuller than I’ve known for (ahem) twenty some years.
Sometimes, life as a writer can feel like a practice in voyeurism. I watch other people living life so that I may construct characters and worlds for them to live in. I sit at a computer, my imagination becoming words on the screen. So very often I forget that I have a life of my own.
One of the very first warm days of this Spring, my daughter galloped outside and kicked off her shoes. She came to me, wiggled her toes and smiled. Oh. Her smile.
“I love having my toes in the grass,” she said. “There’s nothin’ like it. Nothin’ in the world.”
“Oh, yeah?” I asked, looking up from the book I read.
“Yup. You should try it, Mama.” That smile.
I slipped my feet out of my sandals. Put my toes into the grass. Cool, refreshing, real.
The writer learns that life must be lived. Not only observed. The writer must take her shoes off and let her feet become stained green with the grass.
**This is true, by the way. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ve come to expect fiction. I’ll be switching it up every now and again.