I dash home from work, throw on my sweatpants and hurriedly lace my shoes. I glance furtively at the overcast sky and plead for the brewing spring storm to withhold its fury for just 30 more minutes.
I click on my mp3 player and sigh as I discover it is out of battery.
I begin walking. But without any music to distract me, I find myself lost in my own troubled thoughts and unable to squelch an elusive yet rising panic.
So I start to run. And suddenly, it's just me and the gravel crunching beneath my feet. With each straining step, it becomes harder to concentrate on anything but placing my next foot forward, and I am finally able to find a momentary escape from the never-ending swirl of questions bouncing around my distracted mind.
Lungs burning and breathless, I eventually slow to a walk and instantly become very aware of the silence.
My senses heighten and I begin to notice the little details of my surroundings that had previously escaped me. The bees eagerly buzzing around my ankles. The smell of freshly-mowed grass. The laughter of neighbors as they christen spring with their first barbecue. The cluster of quaint park benches nestled under a nearby shade tree.
I turn my attention to those sharing my path. The old couple out for an evening stroll. The middle-aged man huffing and puffing miserably as he makes his way down the trail. The young mother pushing her cooing infant. The giggling teenage girls squealing as they try to untangle themselves from a mess of leashes.
And before long, I begin to see the beauty of a near-forgotten world that values silence more than endless clamor and even find myself resolving to spend more walks engaging rather than escaping.
And just as I am really beginning to soak up the experience and bask in the glory of all things nature...
Huge bug. Directly in the eye.
Happy freaking Earth Day.