Magical Thinkers

Children are magical thinkers. They see no boundaries. Elephants, dinosaurs or dogs, can be purple. Trees can be red. If you’ve ever lived with a toddler you know exactly what I’m talking about.

“Mommy, why don’t cars come with colored tires?” my four year old asked.

“That’s a good question,” I said and then I spent the next thirty minutes of the drive pondering a world where teenage girls drove cars with pink tires, and boys could choose from a selection of tires in various colors, perhaps black rubber mixed with a blue stripe, or even tires with red flames. After awhile, the whole idea seemed pretty darn great. I’d buy a set of pink tires for my hummer. It sure would be unique!

On the running trail, the adults who’ve never been start in right away with the fearful questions. “What about snakes?” one asked, the first day I took her running. “Sure are a lot of spiders out here I bet,” said another. Adults go on and on about the limits within the wilderness, because they have been exposed to those limits, dangers, and fears.

Kids on the other hand, are enveloped in the magic. When I take a child out on the running trail they’re interested in running, hiking, and exploring. They don’t see the trail at all, in fact, and most want to venture off of the trail into the wild burs. “Follow me!” said one adventurous child as he wandered off of the official “trail” into the brushy forest. ‘But that’s not the trail,” I said, catching myself. Why isn’t it the trail? Because some adult said it was so?

The truth is, we have an entire world to wander, and sometimes it just doesn’t pay to stay on the pre-marked trail. You already know where that goes, because someone else has traveled it before, and marked out your path. Chances are it goes in one way, and out the other.

When I hike with kids, they take the creek, instead of the bridge. There’s one particular spot in the forest in a place called twin coves, near the two mile marker of a hiking trail. About two miles into this forest is a bridge, covering a creek teeming with slippery rocks. The adults take the bridge, of course, like any normal person would. But the kids? They always take the creek, pleading with the adults to follow. The kids step into the water, wade over the rocks, and climb the muddy bank up onto the other side.

That’s because children are magical thinkers. They don’t see the limits we’ve imposed on ourselves by the time we reach adulthood. They’re not concerned with taking the path someone else has blazed. They’re not yet programmed that way by the world. Children come out of the womb into this adventure called life, ready to take on the world! It’s our job to help them maintain that sense of adventure.

In my own life, I recall my parents saying no a lot and maintaining a lot of control when we kids talked, made noise, or asked to do something out of the ordinary. My parents maintained a lot of parental control. Perhaps this is why I left at 17 for college and never looked back! Guidance is one thing, but you have to give up enough control to allow your kids to make their own decisions and to take the adventures their minds crave.

I love hiking with kids, but my nirvana is running the trails alone.

When you’re alone in the wilderness it’s a completely exhilarating experience. You’re alone with yourself, in God’s creation, in the midst of massive trees, water, rocks, and landscape.

I love the notion of being alone running, yet hearing the shouts of the others running or biking in the wilderness! It’s like being attached to the world, yet detached. Perfect for a writer, because you can’t be in the world and reality always, when you are writing about the lives of characters.

I view the road bikers and road runners and even the mountain bikers, as kind of black and white – versus Technicolor.

I realize that I love the adventure of trail running so much and the constant discrepancy and surprise of the landscape, that it’s TECHNICOLOR compared to the days I ran on the road, which for me, now seems black and white. Like watching an old television screen in black and white and then being given the gift of a color tv! It’s the same with someone you are really passionate about who energizes your life. You love being with them, and in their presence you feel energized and inspired! When you are not with them, and you’re with others, you feel like you’re comparing everyone to that standard of high energy, fun and passion. Running the trail is that way for me. I love it and when I see the bikes and the road runners I feel grateful to be running the rocks instead. It’s Technicolor!

Last night I coached the employees at Lululemon through the vision board exercise, and how they can present it to the public in a dynamic way. I picked up their new running tights, and a few other things I wore today. Love their fabrics! The girls there are running the Nike Human Race down in Austin. The best thing about the culture at Lululemon is the magical spirit they encourage. It’s a store with products that are all about adventure! It’s a company that encourages no box thinking, and visioning your dreams.

New York Times Best Selling Author