When you have a kid, there inevitably comes a time when she not only wants you to push her on the playground swing, but to swing beside her. And as you pump your legs towards the sky for the first time in a couple of decades, you think to yourself, “Hey, this is fun.”
Swinging was something you’d given up with age. Along with many other of your youthful pastimes.
Jumping into an icy swimming hole.
Hanging upside down on a rollercoaster.
Buying a popsicle from an ice cream truck.
Feeling a faint sunburn after a day on the water.
Climbing a tree.
Backstroking across a pool under a star-studded sky.
Barreling down a hill on your bike.
Going to a late-night rock show.
Having a sleepover with friends.
You come to feel that such things have lost their charm, their novelty, their fun. They’ve gone stale. You’ve been there. Done that. Moved on.
Yet while we often think of the former pleasures of youth as having gotten old, it’s really we who’ve changed. We’ve become less attuned to our instincts. Turned more self-conscious. Scheduled away our spontaneity. Devalued anything that’s more playful than productive. Come to think of getting injured, looking silly, and being uncomfortable as the worst ills, and of a quiet evening at home, a cushy couch, and a full night’s sleep as the highest goods.
Age does generate greater inertia between you and your childhood forms of fun. But, if an effort is made to push through it, you find the pleasures of these pastimes are still very much there. Fresh. Perennial. Evergreen. Waiting to be enjoyed and rediscovered by those who are willing to slow down, break away from their grown-up routine, look for the everyday magic — those who haven’t let the aging of their exterior entirely touch their heart.