22 The Idea of an Essay: Volume 4 The Nature of Literacy Adam Rinehart It is a beautiful spring day, and outside the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the trees sway in the wind. Enviously, I stare out of my bedroom window at my favorite climbing tree. If only I could focus on the task at hand. If only I could experience the freedom I feel when I am connected with the great outdoors: being near the birds, feeling the sun on my shoulders, my face staring into the wind. This is what I live for. But here I am, painstakingly completing my homeschool assignments for the day. I glance around my bedroom, admiring the loft that my father built for me and the miscellaneous objects organized into neat little rows on my shelves. Just downstairs, my sister practices piano and I hear her sigh in frustration at the mistakes she makes. On this day, I am searching for a reason to care about what I am learning, and searching for a reason to stay trapped inside on this beautiful spring day. My nine- year-old body bounds down the beautiful, Victorian-style spiral staircase and I race into the kitchen to find out what I get to eat for lunch. “Mom, what’s for lunch? I’m starving,” I say. Without missing a beat, my mother responds, “Adam, it is insensitive for you to say that you’re starving, you don’t actually know what it feels like to starve. Have you finished your schoolwork for the day?” “Kind of…,” I say. “Can I go outside?” “Not until you finish your schoolwork and do your chores,” she says. Reluctantly, I exit the kitchen and return to my room, unmotivated and distracted. If I can get through the next few hours and be relatively undistracted, I can finally taste the freedom of the outdoors. I lay down and pick up the big, heavy book on Greek Mythology. I sigh. Why do I have to learn about Zeus, the god of thunder, on the most beautiful, sunny day of the week? Life is so hard. An hour later, I hear a car door slam and I race down the stairs just in time to greet my dad as he walks in the house.