Somewhere along the way we forget what it means to celebrate our lives.
When we’re little we ask questions, we look at the world and ask why. When we’re small we create fairy tale lands, dragons to slay, and adventures to go on. We laugh without inhibition, and we sing without fear that we’re doing it wrong. As we grow older people tell us to quiet our laugh, to be silent a little more, to speak only about the things the adults want to hear, to get out of our heads, and move away from play. We are told to work, to study, and we are given nervous breakdowns by the time we’re 15.
There is nothing wrong in hard work, and in working for a living, but, contrary to what we are told over and over again, this hard work does not negate whimsy or the ability to laugh loudly or adventure boldly. Being an adult does consist entirely of ignoring what it means to be a child.
The majority of our learning happens as children. We can take a lesson from this and allow ourselves to return to this from time to time. Getting excited about things, finding joy in the simplicity, or even laughing loudly are not things that prevent us from being an adult.
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve encountered people who believe that being mature means being serious all the time. They talk about portfolios, their work, and their achievements, searching for approval, searching for something intangible. And while I’m proud of them for working so hard, for putting their backs into the effort, the utter lack of imagination or interest outside of their lives is a sad tribute to society that encourages humdrum over a reconnecting with their spark.
There is nothing wrong with going on adventurers, even if we’re broke and can only adventure on our streets or our backyards. There is nothing wrong with finding whimsical things and celebrating it. There is nothing adult about being incurious. There are always things to see and excitement to feel. We just have to stop looking at our world like we've got it solved. There are so many possibilities and joyful moments, but we have to be open to them. Luckily as adults, we have the capacity to adventure as we please.
The serious moments will always find us. The moments where we have to face things with courage and fortitude will always creep up when we least expect it. These adult things will always be there. They are a given, a certainty. We have no choice in them; they are part of growing up and growing old. We do have a choice in approaching our lives with the same joy that had us playing in the mud as children or singing a made up song of which the lyrics are intelligible. Growing up is hard, but that doesn’t mean we have to let it dull us.
Be ridiculous. Stomp in those rain puddles. Be whimsical. Yell into a rainstorm. Be adventurous. Explore your world. Be excited. Love that show, or novel, or art, or whatever as hard as anything – talk about it loudly, enjoy it fully. Absolutely do not let anyone ruin your fun. Do not let them tell you that your joy is childish. It is yours. You own it. Live it.
There will always be people who judge for this. Who think that you are less adult than they are – but, really, what fun are they anyways?
All we are given is time. Strip away all the things we think are important and we are left with a clock. This can either be depressing or it can be a challenge. I don’t know about you, but I would rather spend my time feeling joy, feeling adventurous, feeling whimsical, feeling happy – laughing too loud, being a little too silly, getting excited when I see a dog on the street, turning left instead of right and finding something new, these are all explorations that I can choose to take.
There is nothing childish in joy. It is only our perceptions of it that need to change.