Monthly Archives: July 2010

How To Build A Time Machine To Your Childhood

(This entry is also posted at The Huffington Post.)

Have you noticed that as we get older we require larger amounts of stimulation to engage us? That what once excited us when we were young now doesn’t hold the same potency? Be it the sugar in our food, the coffee we guzzle, our hectic schedules or the onslaught of attention-grabbing media, the result can be the same: there just seems to be a lot less magic than there used to be.

I don’t know about you, but I like magic. I want to have more of it in my life. So, when I do stumble upon magic, I think it’s important to share it.

Such was the case, the other day, when I took my two young sons, Jamie and Charlie, up to the “castle” playground at the back of our local elementary school. By the time we got there, it was 90 degrees and I basically wanted to lay down and have someone dump water all over me. So, I sat on a bench while the boys climbed and ran along the jungle gym. As I checked email on my phone, I watched the boys and wondered why I was feeling like such a slug.

I like to think that being a dad of two active young sons breathes vitality into my life and makes me see things through their eyes, but I have to admit that lately I just haven’t been feelin’ it. So, there I was, thinking about all this, and a little voice inside my head said, “YES, IT’S HOT AND YOU’RE TIRED. NOW GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GO PLAY WITH THEM.”

This was not going to be as easy as the little voice made it sound, but I did get off my duff and began chasing them across an adjacent field. My heart started really pumping as we stormed through the nearby woods and made believe that the “bad guys” were after us. Charlie had brought some straws and we pretended they were guns and we shot at the invisible bad guys. Then we took off for the “high ground” as the forces of evil amassed behind us.

Now, in all of this silliness I started to notice things that I had missed before: The grass had recently been cut. There was a sparrow in a nearby tree. A plane was flying overhead and there was a breeze that hadn’t been there five minutes earlier. Somehow, a mundane summer day had transformed into a time machine to my own childhood without my really noticing it. Remarkable.

With kids, a straw becomes a gun, a blade of grass becomes a whistle, a cereal box becomes the opportunity to build Buzz Lightyear wings. In their fertile little minds there is so much imagination that, to run with them, to share with them, to really be with them is just as entertaining as most of the things we do in our adult lives to remain engaged — although, yes, it can be more exhausting!

While I write from a father’s perspective, you certainly don’t need to be a parent to enjoy these things. If you have a young niece or nephew or know a family that has kids, offer to take them to the park. You could even volunteer at a local Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association. No doubt your presence there would be appreciated.

So, if you’ve been feeling a little sluggish lately and the magic in your life is on the wane, consider building your own time machine to your childhood. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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