Recently my son sat down to dinner and said something really cool. No, it wasn't, "I've decided never to drive," or even, "Don't take care of college, Dad, it's on me!" But it was cool, nonetheless.
He said, with a voice full of song and enthusiasm, "I love sticky rice."
Which was weird, because we were having soup.
Okay, I'm kidding. We were having rice. And it was sticky.
Something occurred to me when he said that: when do we lose the ability to shout for joy? I mean, really, when was the last time you saw something that you liked, and really stood up and shouted about it? No, tweeting in all caps doesn't count.
Why is that? When does it become socially unacceptable to be exuberantly happy about something? I mean, why can't I jump on a couch on national TV if I want to? Why must I have a sense of decorum that would put a penguin butler to shame (penguin butlers, as is well known, are the most decorous animals in the wild)?
Now, granted, I'm not saying we should shout about everything. I mean, I know Taylor Lautner is hotter than a supernova, with abs you can de-scale fish with (yes, I recently saw the newest Twilight movie, which I can best describe as the seventh circle of hell for anyone with any testosterone at all)... do you really need to scream about it?*
But other things. Things we take for granted.
Examples (please read in voice of happy screaming):
1) "HEY! THAT TOILET REALLY WORKS, DOESN'T IT!" 2) "I ADORE BREATHING!" 3) "I SURE AM GLAD THE OTHER THREE TIRES DIDN'T POP!" 4) "EEEK! IT'S TAYLOR LAUTNER!"
Okay, that last one snuck in. Apparently Twilight had a bigger effect on me than I thought. I still dream about it. It haunts me.
At any rate, it's just kind of sad that the only people allowed to be happy about things in more than a subdued, Queen of England sort of way are children.
We could learn a lot from them. Like how to befriend people. Or how to share. Or how to beat the seventh stage of Modern Warfare 3.
But most of all, we could learn how to enjoy the moment.
I guess that part of what happens when we grow up is we learn that moments don't last. That's both good and bad. I mean, we stop screaming for a night light when we successfully make it few enough dark nights and realize that the monster in our closet isn't in fact that interested in us (I basted my little brother in BBQ sauce every night after he went to bed just to make him a more tempting morsel). We calm down about relationships when we realize that chances are another one will come along (this happens when we a) get out of high school and b) turn 35). Bad moments are just that: moments.
The sad flip side, though, is that we learn that our happiness is temporary. That really great job will be outsourced to some other country. That great teacher will turn out to be a closet psychopath. The first few seasons of Lost will be followed by... those later seasons of Lost.
And so we learn to guard our happiness. Because we know it's not going to last forever. Or even for long. Unfortunately, in so doing, we all too often forget that happiness is something that doesn't keep long as a leftover. It's not like the turkey we'll all be having Thursday... and then re-having well into the weekend. It's something that is best savored fresh, and in the moment.
So this Thanksgiving, I plan to express myself with as much joy - and volume - as possible. "LOVE THIS TURKEY!" "BEST CAN-SHAPED CRANBERRY SAUCE EVER!" "SORRY, WAS THAT YOUR HAND I JUST ACCIDENTALLY SEVERED?" (And, of course, at our house, "THIS YAM LOOKS JUST LIKE TAYLOR LAUTNER! NUMMY!")
You get the picture.
* For the record, I am a proud member of Team Don'tcareabit.
About the author
Michaelbrent is a bestselling author and produced screenwriter. He also blogs. And sometimes makes amusing-shaped pudding pops. Now until the end of the year, all his books are on sale for 99 cents on Kindle, so check 'em out here!