Thursday Thoughts: Rediscovering the Joy of Carefree

Thursday Thoughts: Rediscovering the Joy of Carefree

Yesterday, I was 15 again. Well, in my mind I was. When we place ourselves somewhere that brings back a flood of fun memories, it is easy totransport ourselves to another day, one when I had much more reliable knee joints. My husband and I went to the Replay Museum in Tarpon Springs yesterday. It is a retro arcade filled with one pinball machine after another and rows and rows of beloved video games, everything from Dragon’s Lair and X-Men to Pac-woman, Galaga and Robotron. I even spotted Rolling Thunder. After I got my pinball juices flowing for about 15 or 20 minutes, I reconnected with Frogger, reminisced with Qbert, worked it out with Sonya, Subzero and crew for a little Mortal Kombat and tried once again unsuccessfully to beat the winding roads of Out Run. The museum didn’t have Tetris though, I was a little surprised by that and disappointed but otherwise, I found the place amazing and the experience truly cathartic.

 

replay museum It was so much fun to be behind the pinball machine again. Since I was a little kid visiting Daytona Beach’s famous boardwalk with my folks, I have loved spending time in the arcade to play my two favorite games of all — pinball and Skee-Ball. While I did not get to partake in Skee-Ball, I must have played at least a dozen different pinball games during the two times we visited the museum during the afternoon, some old favorites and others that I had never seen before including pinballs revolving around some of my favorite films and TV shows including AVATAR, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, LORD OF THE RINGS, STAR TREK and The Walking Dead.

 

I didn’t grow up with game systems in my house beyond a very cheap knock-off of a system that featured Pong-like games with either one white76705213_10156535443745988_1207357315980722176_n  rectangle for handball or two narrow rectangles across the screen for tennis. We’re talking state-of-the-art graphics, people. When I was in my late teens I dated and then married someone who was quite the game player (aah, yes the marriage that didn’t take, a.k.a. my practice husband). We had the latest and greatest Sega Genesis and Nintendo systems, and I had my own Ninetendo Game Boy. So I am familiar with some games from that era of the late 80s and early 90s that were on home systems but most of my time playing any games at all were at the arcade. In my early 20s after I just moved to Tampa, he and I would rush over to Malibu arcade when it was storming outside because they had their ‘rainy day’ promotion — double the tokens for every dollar spent. Once we arrived there, I spent most of my time on the pinballs or skee-ball unless there was a Tetris or Q-bert somewhere on the premises. And when I was working at my first ‘real’ job out of college, there was a putt putt golf next door that had a small arcade. They had a Tetris machine, and I’m fairly certain I helped wear out that thing. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend most of my lunch break over there.

So arcades have a special place in my heart.

The visit to the Replay Museum yesterday got me to reflect about other activities I enjoyed when I was younger. I think it’s really healthy for adults as they get older to reconnect with their youth by rediscovering those activities they once enjoyed as a kid, a teen or even as a young adult but later on with the experience and knowledge they have as adults. It is a wonderful reminder of what pure joy feels like. We don’t get a lot of occasions in our busy lives to experience that. For example, maybe you enjoyed sketching when you were younger but because of life and how much time or energy you devote to your job, your kids or whatever else demands a lot of your attention, you might not even pick up a pencil or paintbrush anymore. Why not try that this weekend? Or better yet consider making that a resolution for next year (if you use that word or prefer the word ‘goal’ as I do). Reconnect or rediscover joy from activities you once found joy in when you were younger.

I challenge anybody reading this to think of at least one hobby or interest that you had as a child or teenage that you have not participated in over 20 years and go on, give it a shot. Maybe there is place you would visit that made you feel joyful like a certain lake or park, or a theme park. Make a date right now in your 2020 planner or on your phone, an appointment with yourself to rediscover a long lost joy, something that made your heart fill full, had you cheeks hurting from smiling or laughing and thoroughly invigorated you when you took part. I felt that way the other day in that arcade. And nope, playing those games will have absolutely no bearing on my financial future, on my weekly list of goals to accomplish, or hold any long-term relevance, but in that moment — in that single moment in time — I forgot about anything that was stressing me or weighing on my mind and for that brief period of time, I felt carefree.

I ask you, adults 30+ or older, when is the last time you felt carefree? I would venture to guess most of you have to really think back to point to an occasion. That would definitely be me. Maybe it was while you were on a vacation, and that’s fantastic that you remember feeling that way. Or maybe you are a smart cookie and have worked in some true downtime in your weekly schedule on an ongoing basis. If that’s you, good for you, because you are a rare bird. But I think I speak for most of us that the only time we can hope to have any carefree moments are when we’re on vacation, and a lot of us don’t even experience it then since sometimes vacations can be more stressful than work.

Build a carefree moment into your week even if it’s just one day for one hour and maybe for only one week out of the month. Just try it. Remind yourself how good it feels to not have a care in the world. I cannot express enough how good I felt last night. It felt good to have fun simply for fun’s sake — with nothing planned or with any set outcome in mind. Just to have fun.

Yesterday was about enjoying some fun down time with my husband while on vacation for a few days but I think instead I uncovered a real need of mine that I didn’t know I had. I’m going to carry that observation into the new year and make carving out carefree moments on a regular basis one of my top priorities. Anyone out there feel like they  need to join me on this mission? As always thanks for reading.

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