Millions of 6 year olds can’t be wrong
We’ve all heard that old saying that all work and no play makes John a dull boy. I used to pity poor John…as a pleasure seeking slacker I never figured that too much work would ever be an issue for me. Well, it turns out that work comes in many forms and can be insidious … it sneaks up on you.
Between getting a new job and working on my marriage, two things I tried to avoid for most of my adult life, I woke up one day and realized that I was working way too hard and Rick had become a dull boy.
At first I thought I was sick. I couldn’t figure out why I was tired and grouchy most of the time. For a year or so I blamed it on the radiation treatment … they say it takes a long time to get over that so it was a convenient excuse…but that wasn’t it.
A few months ago I found myself snapping at my wife over something trivial, which is like slapping a grizzly for blocking your sun, a foolish move likely to ruin your day … at least. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had become that old guy who was either asleep in his recliner or yelling at some kid to get off his lawn. When the heck did that happen?
Sandra had been telling that I was a jerk for a while but I just figured she didn’t know a care-free long haired leaping gnome when she saw one. It turns out she was right! Heck, I couldn’t blame her for being angry with me; I wasn’t all that fond of myself.
Then it occurred to me! I had been forgetting to play. I couldn’t remember the last time I rode a bike as fast as it would go downhill, chased a grandkid through a park or dove into the ocean. Heck, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had a good belly laugh! I was feeling like a grumpy old guy because I was acting like a grumpy old guy.
That’s right; I had skipped growing up altogether and gone straight to growing old.
The diagnosis was grim but the prescription was free and easy; I took Sandra to the beach. When we got there I dove into the surf and within 15 minutes I was laughing out loud as I rode wave after wave crashing and diving and having a great time.
I looked around and noticed that I was the only adult playing in the water. All around me kids were laughing, playing and splashing in the water just like me. While the 6 year olds and I were having fun the grown-ups were resting in beach chairs and sunbathing on towels. What’s wrong with that picture?
I didn’t care because for the first time in a while I felt like the tanned 20 year-old surfer with sun beached hair and a 28 inch waist that I once was…during the Carter Administration. Unfortunately, what everyone else saw was a dumpy grey haired old man flailing around in two foot waves giggling like a lunatic. Pretty soon some of the parents started moving their kids away from me … the grouchy old fogies!
It wasn’t long before Sandra joined me in the water and we were laughing like a couple of kids as we played until sunset. We’ve found our way to the beach several times a week since then and life just started getting better.
These days I find myself watching old Mel Brooks movies that I haven’t seen in years and belly laughs are a regular part of my day again. Last week I spent three days in Cocoa Beach for work (I know, it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it) and, although I never found Jeanie or Major Nelson, I did get in a couple of hours of playing in the surf and managed to provide a few belly laughs for the local surfers.
Like I said, life just keeps getting better.
The moral of the story is simple; I wasn’t grumpy because I was old, I was old because I was grumpy! I’m still a dumpy old grey haired grandpa, but I’m a happy dumpy old grey haired grandpa because I remembered to play. Ten million 6 year olds can’t be wrong … keep playing my friends!
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist.