The sun gently kissed the exposed skin on my arms and legs as I enjoyed the cool breeze. I watched as the same crisp air moved through the lush leaves of the surrounding trees. I took a moment to look down at the fresh dew still visible on the short vibrantly green grass that sprung as I took steps towards the nearest classroom. I wanted to soak in every moment before the sound of the bell, which rang to rush small children to line up outside of their classrooms for morning prayers, bellowed its loud metallic sound.
I can distinctly remember looking up at the crystal-clear blue sky and then down again at one of the many dandelions that adorned the small field right outside the computer classroom. I plucked one and, rather than making a wish and letting my breath brush away the dozens of feathery seeds into the wind, I thought about the present moment. On this first day of spring in my fourth-grade year of elementary school, I would never be younger than I am right now.
There wasn’t a sense of panic that followed the thought but rather a mindfulness that allowed me to be truly in the present. The thought never crossed my mind before that day, so I allowed my thoughts to continue to wander off onto places not yet trodden. I knew I needed to enjoy the small things as they came and passed. I knew, from watching the adults around me, that I would soon have even more responsibilities and stress that would pile upon me. I wanted to savor the stillness of that moment before the morning bell because the simple pauses in life would come fewer and farther in between the years of living and striving to accomplish things that I didn’t even know that I would want to achieve.
I felt this moment again recently in the high desert of Joshua Tree National Park. As I hiked the beautiful mountains adorned with the famous trees of the park’s namesake, I couldn’t help but become present in the stillness of the moment again. It was the first beautiful day after weeks of cold temperatures and rain. I was able to look down at the colorful sands that sunk a little as I placed one laced up hiking shoe before the other. I enjoyed every moment of getting lost in the national park, and I let my mind wander to familiar places that I only visit when venturing out into nature.