Tonight my 5 year old son chased me around the house for a very long time. We circled tables, climbed over couches, and tumbled across beds. As he ran after me with all of his energy, he laughed with rapturous delight. And I got to thinking about the emotions of children. Their feelings are like bright colors, while those of us adults are so subtle we often hardly realize their presence.
Why do adults stop having fun? Is it because we have responsibilities to which care-free kids are oblivious? Perhaps. But I live near some tennis courts and when I watch people play, they look deadly serious, as if their lives are hanging in the balance. In those moments, these adults are not working for their livelihood or engaged in some other activity essential to their survival. They are playing a game and yet it takes hitting a spectacular shot to bring a smile to one of their faces. And I am probably the same way when I play.
Is children’s ability to more easily delight in life due to its freshness and novelty? Do adults get bored with what we’ve become used to? I think that is part of the answer.
There are also the expectations we adults place upon ourselves and each other. In childhood you are supposed to discover and be surprised by what you find. In contrast, we adults take pride in not being caught off guard. We are wise to the world. Our humor is that of wry irony.
Does being an adult require leaving the frivolous fun of childhood behind? Or should we cultivate a space in our days to do nothing but delight in the miracle of our existence?