Living the Vintage Years: Never allow age to extinguish your inner child
BY BONNIE LEE STRUNK
Special to The Press
To celebrate a friend’s birthday, we decided to be kids for a day. Even though both of us are of Medicare age, we visited an out-of-town amusement park for hours of fun and play. We found rides that did not cause motion sickness or vertigo. We played miniature golf and ate goodies we would not make at home. We took pictures of each other, and we laughed often.
What fun it was to unleash the inner child who lurks inside every one of us and, sadly, remains forever stifled in many folks.
I am known for writing a little message in the birthday cards I send to friends and family, reminding them growing older is mandatory, but growing up is totally optional.
My brother has a different way of saying the same thing. He wants to die young, at a very old age.
Some people who know me are convinced I will never grow up. Most likely, that’s because of an innate curiosity that has stuck with me since I learned to talk.
Admittedly, I ask a lot of questions, which drove my parents crazy, but that’s how we learn, and I never intend to stop learning. I like details - the more, the better. And I love to have fun, which apparently is a good thing.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the happiest individuals are those who let their inner child run free and learn to put fun in their lives.
Some people consider recreation a negative pursuit. They think the only meaningful activity is work. They believe they must be productive all the time and must be accomplishing something.
To these folks, play is viewed as a waste of precious time. It isn’t. Play is essential. It relieves stress. We cannot live a healthy, happy life without play.
We need a balance of work and play to be fulfilled (and sane).
Play provides us with joy and a zest for life. It renews and refreshes us.
Whenever I am scheduling my week, I always make sure to leave time for a concert or movie or outing with a friend. Although I lead a busy life, I consider a play day as necessary as my work or study or volunteer jobs.
Play is a form of relaxation. It helps us to focus on the present and to enjoy the happiness of the moment.
While we are having fun, we’re not dwelling on the past, which we cannot change, or the future, which has not happened yet and maybe never will.
When we visit the playground of our hearts, we once again see magic everywhere we look. We appreciate the wonders of the world and don’t worry about looking foolish in the eyes of others.
When we unleash our inner child, we don’t avoid the puddles. Instead, we dance in the rain. We feel and experience life as a child. We are full of enthusiasm.
Although we continue to grow older, our inner child is ageless. We are never too old to read fairy tales or to dream big.
So shed your adult mask once in a while and feel the freedom. Give your inner child an adventure. Tap into the wonder we had as children. Take some time to be silly. The free-spirited part of us is waiting to emerge.
Our official childhood may have ended decades ago, but play time will live on for the rest of our lives.