Joni Mitchell may have been originally inspired to lament over environmental loss in her 1970 hit, “Big Yellow Taxi” but by the end of the song she turns away from the paved over wilderness and sees what is missing in her personal life as well. That same recognition hit me hard this week as I watched all three of my kids head off to school. For the first time in over 11 years, I have a chunk of time between the coming and going of the big yellow school bus that I can devote to me.
Instead of only happiness and freedom, the big yellow school bus has also brought a bit of angst to this week, if you have to know the truth.
When I was a middle schooler, I went out for track. Because my dad thought it would improve what he labelled as my athletic deficiencies, I laced up my already well-worn KMart shoes and headed out to the field one spring day. I practiced a variety of events and improved my general cardio fitness throughout the season. Each practice started out with a short run and then we practiced our individual events. I wasn’t the first runner back from each run, but I wasn’t the last either. Even in middle school I ran just ahead of the turtles. It mattered a bit to me that I wasn’t fast, but I liked the act of running more. I liked being outside in the sun, the feel of the sun on my skin, the sound of my shoes and my breath in a smooth cadence of motion. However, it was clear to all that I was no “runner” like some of the other kids.