Fun is Ageless
Yesterday, when I was out running a few errands, I stopped at a drive-through for a quick bite to eat. Normally, I eat in my car while going about my business, but yesterday I decided to stop and eat at a park that was only a couple of blocks away. I know this park well (it’s less than a mile from my house), it was a gorgeous day (albeit very hot at 95 degrees) and I wanted to enjoy the fact that I was “out and about” rather than in my home office.
I chose to sit at a picnic table in a well-shaded area, and while I ate I noticed a children’s playground nearby. What caught my attention was that there were no children playing there. Normally – even on the hottest days – there are at least two or three moms or dads at this playground, an equal number or greater of children, and lots of laughter. Yesterday, it was quiet.
On impulse, I decided I wanted to swing. The swings were only a short distance away and I loved swinging as a child. When I was in elementary school I often spent my entire recess break swinging with my friends, and even though I’m now “grown up,” the passion for swinging has never left me.
So… I took advantage of the fact that there was no one around, sat on a swing and started swinging. I immediately felt the thrill I always felt when I was a child, and I started laughing out loud. In my exuberance and passion for living in that moment, I failed to noticed that while I was swinging several cars had arrived, and the playground was now occupied by a number of adults and children.
I stopped, at first embarrassed, but then I thought, Why do I have to be embarrassed about doing something I love? I may be an adult now, but I still love swinging! So I called out to the adults and kids who were looking at me (several with amused smiles on their faces), and I told them, “You have to try the swings! They feel great today!” I resumed my swinging.
That’s when an interesting thing happened. When several of the parents asked their kids if they wanted to swing, the kids responded that they wanted to see their parents swing. Within minutes, the parents were seated in swings, and it was the children who were pushing their parents while everyone laughed. As I watched the scene unfold, I was reminded of a dear friend of mine who is known in her community as the “free hugs lady.”
As often as she can, my friend Havalynn can be found in the downtown area where she lives with her “FREE HUGS” sign, to the point where she’s become something of a local celebrity. I had the great honor and pleasure of joining Havalynn in Key West earlier this year, where we gave out free hugs on Duval Street. (I should note that with Key West’s reputation of being an open, welcoming, “eccentric” place, a number of tourists took pictures of us thinking we were part of the local flavor!)
I mention Havalynn because she is one of my greatest inspirations to live life to the fullest. She’s spontaneous, she’s fun, and her infectious energy draws everyone to her. She also loves to skip. And dance walk. And sing. And blow bubbles. And look at shiny objects. In other words, she still enjoys the great pleasures all of us enjoyed as children. Some people may call her weird, or strange, or even crazy, but those people don’t know her. For those of us privileged enough to be her friends, we know that she is always fully engaged, fully present, and fully aware. When you talk to her, you KNOW she’s listening. Havalynn is intoxicated by life, and she shows it every waking moment. She constantly reminds me to look at the world through the lens of amazement and wonder.
How many of us have buried the passions of our childhood because we’ve come to believe that only kids do those things, or perhaps we’re too old? How many passions or joys go unfulfilled simply because we think we’ve outgrown them? How often do we deny ourselves the simple pleasures of life because we’re just plain afraid of what other people will think? If these questions resonate with you, then I have a very simple answer:
Who cares what others think?
The only thing that matters is what YOU think. If you think you’d enjoy something, then don’t hold back. When I stopped caring what others thought, the world opened up to me. I suddenly found that I was surrounded by like-minded people, and I discovered that when I live in the moment and I do what I love, the world smiles with me. The parents at the park were laughing as much as their kids, and I’m certain that they were able to recapture a glimpse of the fun that can be theirs all the time. I cannot say this passionately enough: WE’RE HERE TO ENJOY OUR LIVES! We’re here to experience love and laughter and wonder. We’re not here to be miserable just because someone tells us that we can’t enjoy something, or because we think that we’ve outgrown a passion.
Fun, laughter, and passion are ageless, and they don’t leave us just because we grow old. If they did, why do we so often hear the lament, “I wish I could still do that?” You can! And unless there is some physical or medical reason that keeps you from doing something you loved as a child, the only thing keeping you from experiencing life’s little pleasures is you!
Care about yourself enough to reward yourself with laughter, fun, and passion. Your life, and the lives of those around you, will be much brighter.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.