When a friend suggested that I act my age, I flippantly asked her what my other options were. She said, “If you don’t act your age folks will think you’re in your second childhood”. Well, now I know that a second childhood is an option and I recommend choosing it over acting your age. Childhood has more perks than acting your age.
I remember my first childhood as a time when I could engage in spontaneous, unstructured play without feeling self-conscious, not feel guilty about spending a day participating in whatever claimed my interest, act silly and show unbridled joy at being alive.
Sadly, as I became an adult, I was encouraged to restructure my priorities and concentrate on duty and responsibility. So, play and being spontaneous got buried under jobs, chores and obligations. Most of my time was spent getting an education, earning enough money to support my family and being a productive member of my community. I when I had a little ‘free’ time I was content to put my feet up and relax or engage in sports or other structured activities, not spontaneous play.
By the time I reached retirement age, I had forgotten how to be spontaneous. Nonetheless, upon learning that a second childhood was an option of old age, I thought, “Glory Hallelujah! I’m gonna go for it.”
Hence, I paused and pondered the joys of childhood. I recalled engaging in spontaneous play without looking around to see if anyone was watching and judging me. I remembered jumping for joy, singing at the top of my lungs, building sand castles and dancing in the rain. Back then I had no to do list and I didn’t feel guilty when I wasn’t doing something productive. I didn’t need a play date to have fun with a friend – I simply stood outside a house and yelled, “Hey y’all, come out and play with me”?
I understand that a second childhood will be a little different than the first time around and that it isn’t without risk. I’ll require me to open my heart and mind to playmates – to give up false pride – to learn to how laugh at myself. I’ll need to become less judgmental and more trusting. But, a second childhood is one last chance to embrace the joy of life and this makes it precious to me. And I’m more than willing to take the necessary risks.
Henceforth, I’m going to let my imagination run wild and free. I’ll no longer condemn playfulness. In fact I believe doing so is unnecessary, unwise and unhealthy. I believe that engaging in unstructured play is uplifting to the soul and important to the quality of life.
I going to, once again, view the world with the sense of wonder and awe I had as a child. How about you? Will you go for a second childhood or for acting your age? Double dog dare you to come along and play with me.
Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV. Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from amazon.com.