When did we lose the ability to directly enjoy our lives?
Without a few glasses of wine. Or caffeine. Or another person. Or an excessive amount of sugar.
Do you remember the last time you felt completely carefree and lingered in the moment?
But as I sat outside today I was so struck by this scene:
Kids in the park—running, sprinting, galloping to the fountain. Not caring if their clothes get soaked. Not caring the water sprays in their face.
In fact, that is what they want: a direct and unfiltered experience of the water, and in turn, of life.
Their little tongues were extended as far out as they could go, hoping to catch the biggest, roundest water droplets.
I can hardly even watch these kids, let alone participate in the moment, without my mind wandering to bills, chores, and a seemingly endless to-do list.
Always thinking ahead or backward.
I’m never here, am I?
I’m struck by this thought. It’s not new. I’ve thought it before. But maybe I feel it and understand it a new light.
I want that joy. I want that care-free joy I witnessed in the park today.
We move so far away from this so quickly. By the time we are teenagers, we have forgotten the simplicity of enjoying a moment. Then, we start to rely on sugar, caffeine, other people, or pharmaceuticals to make us feel good.
And this continues well into adulthood This reliance on some outer thing to make us feel free, happy, and joyful.
If we have a bad day, we can’t wait to come home and have a glass of wine. If we have a good day, we can’t wait to celebrate with that same glass of wine.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a fancy little cocktail on a summer evening can feel like a gift from the heavens. But to be able to tap into joy and savor a moment, just on our own.
To be able to do that on a random weekday afternoon.
To be that thirsty for life.
To be so in the moment that you forget all sense of space and time.
To not try so hard for a moment. What would that be like?
One of the most beautiful things I witnessed in the park was that the children were not trying to have fun.
They became fun. They become joy. They became freedom.
It was such a stark contrast to us adult folks. We get out our planners and try to insert fun and enjoyment into our schedules. Could we be any further removed from the direct experience of joy? When said “fun” event rolls around, we are not even in the mood to go. It’s all so forced. Like, oh it’s Friday night, I am supposed to be out at this stupid event having fun.
What if we just did want we wanted to do? What if we did what felt right in the moment?
I think that might be getting closer to what these kids did so unknowingly and easily in the park today.
To not force, tug, or pull.
To just experience the flavors of joy in this moment.
And this one. And this one.
And just go on like that forever.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Carley Paganetti & Sean Kolvenbach