Puddle Stomping 3/1/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Could spring finally have sprung? After weeks of below freezing and sometimes below zero temperatures, and feet of snow and days of ice, it’s actually fifty degrees today. And yet, here I am, inside, working at my computer.

Adulthood sucks.

But what I did see is a heartwarming video from a friend of mine of her child stomping through puddles. She actually made the video slow-motion and it was just beautiful. This toddler enjoying the simple act of stomping in puddles while wearing rubber boots and appropriate weather clothing.

It’s such a simple pleasure, isn’t it? Just stomping a puddle, watching the water give way and rush back. Seeing how far you can splash the water. Stomping as you walk or jumping with both feet at once just for the joy of the splash.

Yes, I truly believe that this is a tragic loss as we get older. Can you imagine how people would look at an adult who is obviously and intentionally stomping and splashing puddles? And how angry would somebody be if this adult stomped the puddle too close to their car, despite the fact that their car probably desperately needs a car wash anyway since nearly all cars today are coated in salt, and despite the fact that even if it is clean at the moment there’s no real harm done? How tragic that another human beings’ simple pleasure can be so crassly destroyed by somebody who cares more about their car than their fellow human?

There were times I used to enjoy being childish. Not childish as in throwing a tantrum (which seems to be the all-too-common way in which many adults are childish) but doing things from my childhood. When I was a tenured full professor (although for some reason they spelled it “fool”) there were a couple of days that I skipped across the campus. Yes, skipped, just because, frankly, I hadn’t seen anybody do it in years. So, I skipped.

Surprising factoid here; skipping is exercise! Seriously, try it. I’m surprised it’s not an exercise craze because it does get your heart rate up. Try it. I dare you. I double dare you. I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU!

In that same time frame, coming home one day, I made a snow angel in my yard. It snowed, and it was very cold, but the snow was so beautiful and smooth that it brought to mind snow angels. So yes, if any of my neighbors were watching, they saw me plop down on my back to make a snow angel. I don’t know about you, but I know how to give the snow angel little feet as well. It’s just a special added touch, so I gave her feet.

Simple pleasures mean so very much. I love holding hands. Just, holding her hand on a drive, or in the movie theater. Not that I have much of a chance to do that these days, but when I did, it was such a beautiful thing to do. Or to have my arm around her shoulder.

One of the sensuous and simple things is to absentmindedly caress her shoulder with your fingertips as your arm is around her. This is a lesson I learned many years ago when I was just out of college, when a girlfriend (well, I hoped she was going to be a girlfriend) did that. There was nothing inappropriate about it but feeling her just touching and caressing my shoulder was so incredibly moving. It’s something I like to do when I have the chance, although those chances are all too rare these days.

Music is another simple joy, but one that thankfully we don’t grow out of. It’s amazing how music can motivate and uplift. I’m going through a pretty bad time at the moment, and yet here I am listening to the Beatles’ “Come Together” (yes, the Beatles wrote and recorded it; Aerosmith did the cover). I’ve never understood the lyrics to this song (although John Lennon once answered, exasperated, a reporter’s question about the meaning of a song, “can’t a song just be funny and meaningless?”), but the beat is so uplifting, and it’s so much fun to just shout the song that it always makes me feel good.

My advice is to seek out those simple pleasures in your life. There’s an old saying, “dance like nobody is watching.” And if they do watch, so what? Is it YOUR job to get THEIR approval? No. Whoever told you that you have to have the approval of others was just dealing with their own issues. Have fun. I have a friend who does hoola-hoops on a regular basis. She justifies it saying that it’s great exercise, which it is, but even if she just enjoys it, that’s enough. Go. Have fun. We live to enjoy days like this, not stay indoors blogging about it.

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