It begins promptly at 8:50 a.m. The gates open and at first all you hear is the slowly increasing sound of footsteps. A few sound to be walking, but as the volume increase, apparently so does the velocity. Before long the stampede reaches it’s crescendo and you fear that your life may be in danger if you step out of your door as they pass. Voices cry out in fear, anger, and joy, and still the running continues. The dull roar gradually subsides. Only a few stragglers remain, but they rush onward as the rest had done before them. Finally the public address announcer silences the throngs; “Good Morning boys and girls. Welcome to another day of learning at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.”
I’m at this school two days a week and the running never stops. The children are ages 4-12. No matter where they are going or what the reason, they run as if their life depended upon it. They could be going to the bathroom, returning to class, or going to the principal (he’s a prince who’s your pal). They could be on their way to the nurse because they broke their leg and they’d be running. If they’re not escorted by an adult, as soon as that classroom door opens these kids take off as if they are a super ball shot out of a cannon. They bounce off the walls and each other as they careen down the hallways and stairs. The next time one of them touches the bottom three steps on their way down the stairs it will be the first time. I’ve asked them why they run and leap on their way to everywhere and none of them has any idea why they do this. I guess the adult equivalent is how we always drive as if we’re in a hurry, screaming inside our cars for others to get out of our way, even if we’re going to get a root canal. I suppose that’s why funeral processions get to run all the red lights. We’re even in a hurry when we’re dead.
Imagine if adults continued our childhood running everyday at our jobs and other places. At the supermarket we could race down the aisles crashing our carts like bumper cars trying to be the first to the checkout. In church we would jump over seats and into the aisle to be the first to be blessed. At the doctor as soon as that magical door opens to the exam rooms in back we’d all race and push through the door, perhaps knocking over a nurse on the way. Healthiest sick person wins! I’m not sure why, but I think this image would be particularly entertaining at the OB/GYN. As we wait for the copy machine in the office we’d push, jostle and budge each other as the weaker co-workers would shout, “Mr. Johnson! I was here first and Phil cut in line!” Imagine the fun. I don’t think that youth is wasted on the young. I’d love to write more, but I’ve gotta run!