There seem to be a lot of fully grown adults these days who speak or behave like children. You know, baby talk, silly voices, generally imitating childish gestures. I say ‘a lot’ because it’s one of those things that I’ve seen so often lately that it’s hard not to take note. I always feel a little embarrassed and very confused when adults behave this way, even though they clearly aren’t.
I genuinely believe that no matter how old you are, there is a time and place for silliness and humor. I just tend to be shocked when this humor is displayed by adults, not through wit or cleverness, but through a display of unquestionable immaturity. I don’t know how to respond to it. I cannot respond in kind, I wouldn’t know how. I didn’t even have that sense of humor when I was a child.
I have the sense that this could be a result of a misguided notion of preserving the innocence and joy of childhood. We’re told all our lives not to lose our innocence and our sense of adventure. Our youthful perspective and our jeux de vivre. But we’re never taught exactly what this means. We’re never taught that staying young at heart means being open to experience and to the world, to being trusting and loving, to looking forward with hope and faith that the world can’t get you down.
But that is what it means to be young at heart. It doesn’t mean that you speak baby talk to your peers in a professional work environment. If that’s what you think being young at heart is, you’re missing something. And I suppose that’s the thing that makes me cringe a little inside when I see people being this way. You’ve missed something.
I’d like to challenge anyone who reads this to reach into the recesses of your soul and find the youth that’s buried there. I mean it. I don’t care if you’re 87 or 12. Reclaim the sense of possibility that you couldn’t help but feel enveloped by as a child. Remember what it means to be young at heart.