Childhood, the days of carefree existence; wake up and the most difficult decision of the day would be Tony Tiger or Sam the Toucan. Puddle jumping, frog catching, bike riding bliss. Endless summer days filled with sunburn, chlorine, and sticky fingers. Bitterly cold winter days filled with snowmen, rosy checks, and hot cocoa. Simplicity at its finest. Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo… beloved figures from days gone by. Looking back on those days of skinned knees and converse sneakers, I can’t help but wonder if we even thought about the future and adulthood. Did we wonder how the bills got paid, how our clothes got clean, how dinner miraculously made it from the grocery store to the table. I would venture to guess we didn’t. We lived in the moment. We chose to relish in the joy of the day. Life was a series of adventures where tomorrow seemed light years away. Our entertainment consisted of gazing into cardboard tubes, otherwise known as kaleidoscopes, with beautiful colored pieces of glass spinning around and forming patterns; posing our slinky’s precariously on the edge of the first step of the staircase, hoping they would tumble gracefully down and come to rest perfectly stacked at the bottom. Transposing print from newspapers onto a taffy like substance called silly putty…this was our magic. When the sun finally set on a long summer day, we caught fireflies and turned them into rings. When the new day dawned we spent hours searching the grass for four leaf clovers and when the air turned crisp in late fall, we raked leaves into a giant pile with the sole purpose of jumping into them and scattering them about the yard again. Electronic devises were something our dads used, and phones hung on a wall or sat on a table, with a rotary dial that made a cool clicking sound when engaged. We rarely used them and always needed permission to do so.
Life was not without its problems though. Bully’s existed. Fears of finding razor blades in halloween candy became a reality. We were taught not to talk to strangers and somehow the older we got, the little less bright the world became. Shadows began to lurk behind every birthday, and each passing year brought a bit more worry, a bit less freedom, something called responsibility entered our lives. Gone were the days of reckless abandonment. School work became harder, we felt pressure to succeed, fit in, conform. This was however the seventies and part of us still grasped onto our freedom like a drowning man clinging to a life raft. We grew our hair long, braided it, stuck flowers in it.
We listened to 8-track tapes of Jackson Browne, Olivia Newton-John, and Donna Summer. We experimented with different substances, practiced yoga, tie dyed our clothes. Somehow this helped us cling to youth, and prolong our journey into adulthood…..but ultimately it came. It came like a thief in the night, it, slunk into our lives, crawling stealth-like into our homes, this thing called adulthood. It dug it’s poisonous fangs into our flesh, and breathed its putrid breath into our very being. It ripped the braids from our hair. It plucked the flowers from behind our ears, tossing them to rot on the floor before us. It’s venom turned our rebelliousness into complacency. We became the antithesis of what we once were. We entered adulthood placing one foot in front of the next. We married, reproduced, bought a home, got a dog. We took approximately one vacation per year, we worked, we worked, we worked. We raised our children, they left the nest, and here we sit.
Regrets, a few. Do overs heck yeah. Advice…plenty. To the next generation of “us”. Live! Take that extended vacation. Leave that job you’re unhappy with. Make that move to another state or country. Rent, rent rent. Don’t be a slave to a house or anything for that matter. Marry, stay single, make it your decision not society’s. Love who you love. Be spontaneous. Be brave. Be honorable. Be good. Do good. Don’t look at others and see color, see humans. Live judgement free. Most of all be true to yourself. We each get just one precious life and that is something that is exclusively ours to do with what we please. Make it count. Make it epic.