I’m Just Playin’ (27 of 90)

On Monday, I gave someone a piece of advice that I rarely follow myself: “It’s all just a big cosmic joke so remember, every once in awhile, put down your work and just have a good time. After all, we’re just grown-up versions of little apes. Sometimes we have to throw some poo.”

Not, mind you, that I’m advocating The Great Poo Toss of 2010. But you get the idea.

I take life way too seriously. Way too often. I find it difficult to cut myself some slack, put the work down for a bit and just go waste time.

When that happens, I find the rest of the world becomes increasingly serious. Grandma-in-the-house serious. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a bit. Rest assured, it is bad).

And when everything becomes life or death, the world gets particularly scary. A conversation, a grade, a kiss, a handshake, an argument. These all become something more than they are.

It wasn’t always like that for me.

***

Years ago, my father and I were talking. About what I couldn’t tell you, but as we’re wont to do, it had something to do with Human Nature. Or more probably, the nature of humans. There’s a difference. We’re more concerned with the second. Or I am. Which means he is when we are talking.

He told me a story about what can happen if we erect barriers around us. If our world shrinks down.

When you’re young, he said, you never fear anything. You go anywhere and do anything. You adventure out, so you spend less time worrying about the minutia along the way.

As you get older, you begin to shrink your experience. You travel less. You have fewer friends. You stay closer to home. And that home becomes very important to you. Which means little things are now more important.

Then you reach a certain age where you rarely leave the house, for whatever reason. Your world shrinks to the four walls. And the minutia of your life, everything within that house, must be maintained. It becomes your life because it is your life. You obsess about it. Meanwhile, the world outside – the one you used to roam free in – continues to revolve, uncaring about the fact that somebody moved the throw pillow on your couch.

Don’t, he said, ever allow yourself to get old.

***

It’s worth noting, I think, that my parents travel a good 16 weeks each year. And not to a condo in Florida. They are – well, to be honest, I have no idea where they are. Somewhere West.

I can’t keep track of the kids these days.

***

It’s worth noting that my parents instilled that desire to travel in me. Because of that, I have seen more things and met more people who have changed my life than I ever imagined possible.

My parents love of the world and the big monkeys who roam the planet have helped me realize that nothing is impossible, nothing is un-know-able, and nothing is ever as it seems.

I hit the parental lottery and thank my lucky stars every day.

***

This evening, some of my former students (the MINjas, for those keeping track) and I assaulted Twitter. I have no idea why this happened but I do know who started it.

We broke out into a massive wrestling match, inasmuch as you can wrestle in a virtual environment. Adhoc teams were formed, people chose names and we began to attack each other using hashtags to denote action. It was utterly pointless and devoid of anything meaningful, at least in the ways that we normally play with meaning. Such as:

***

One of the great gifts I’ve been given in my life is the ability to laugh. To make people laugh. To laugh with other people. And in my sobriety, the ability to laugh heartily and often at myself.

I forget that last part sometimes. I need other people to remind me of that. I’m getting okay with the fact that I need other people. And particularly okay with the fact that I need other people to remind that it’s okay to let the serious go for a little while.

It’s why I’m thankful for my meetings, for my friends (who consistently remind me), for my students who engage in Wrestlemani-NKU on Twitter, for my family who taught me that life is just a big cosmic joke.

All of these people remind me of the best parts of this world. They remind me that this short trip we’re on, this cosmic accident of life, should be loved and enjoyed and lived. They remind me that my work isn’t Grandma’s House, that sometimes deadlines need to be missed. That a kiss doesn’t mean eternity and a slight doesn’t last forever.

The remind me, in other words, to get my hands a little dirty and live.

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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