Imagination – The Solution To Every Challenge

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

This week seems like it’s been something other than a week. I can’t say if it felt longer, shorter, muddier, or colder, but it was definitely different. Okay, it was colder. I’m sure of that. Here we are in mid-April, with freezing temperatures overnight most of the week. And the RV is sitting there with water in the pipes. Because, you know, April. Who would’ve known?

And believe me, yesterday was one of those days when I really wanted to send the kids outside to burn off some of that excess energy. With the little ones, it usually happens around 5:00, right before their dad comes to pick them up. It’s payback for all the hours they were good, not to mention an afternoon nap. I’d ban naps, but I’ve seen how that story ends. No thanks.

It’s hard, because they don’t have much to play with here. Their bicycles are at home, and we don’t have a swing set. Okay, with these kids, it’s more like a jungle gym. Deep jungle. We can’t just turn them loose out front because they’d end up in the street, and the back yard is more of an obstacle course, courtesy of the dog. But at least they’d have something to play with.

Kids can amuse themselves with the simplest things. And just in case anybody thinks that trait vanishes in the teenage years, I beg to differ. I was in the Boy Scouts, and when you put a group of adolescent boys on an open prairie that doubles as a cattle ranch, dodgeball takes on a whole new meaning. Let’s just say there’s plenty of ammo to keep everybody amused.

But you know, there’s nothing wrong with kids finding new and improved ways to have fun with things we’d normally step over. It’s a sign of imagination, though sometimes a bit twisted. Still, it’s hard to shut them down when they’re so overly amused. Okay, you make them scrub their hands and toss their clothes directly in the washer. But otherwise, what’s the real harm?

Well, I guess that depends on who’s throwing and who’s catching. I was always on the receiving end. Whether it was a bucket of water, a mud bomb, or the dreaded cow pie, I spent a good part of my youth on the run. I guess that’s why I don’t run today. Unless somebody is chasing me with a snake, that is. No, that’s not a hypothetical statement. Been there.

But you know, it’s the same imagination that can look at cattle dung and see a Frisbee that found penicillin in moldy bread or looked at an egg and saw food. Think about it. At some point in time, a farmer left a bucket of milk in the barn overnight and came back to a glob of churning bacteria. “Hmmm. Strain that through a sock and I bet it’d taste GREAT on a hamburger!”

I’m no biblical expert, but I’m pretty sure the Garden of Eden didn’t come with a full kitchen, indoor plumbing, and an entire set of Craftsman tools. All of the modern conveniences we enjoy came as the result of human ingenuity. And ingenuity is the spawn of imagination. It began the first time a caveman dropped a heavy rock and watched it roll. I never said it was all intentional.

In fact, a lot of things happen by accident. Styrofoam was the result of an industrial accident. According to an old TV commercial, two people were walking down the street eating peanut butter and chocolate and bumped into one another. And way back in 1847, somebody mixed the right combination of glycerol and nitric acid and said, “Here, shake this up.”

Any one of those things could have resulted in nothing more than filling up the trash can with something we have dozens of uses for today. Okay, that last one would have blown up the trash can, but you get the idea. Imagination is to see something not as it is, but as it could be. It’s the ability to find new uses for useless items and turn disaster into opportunity.

Watch a young child, barely able to sit on their own, and you’ll see the wheels turning. Watch a young child, barely able to sit on their own, and you’ll see the wheels turning. Anything they can find becomes an implement to achieve a goal. That goal may simply be to reach a ball that’s just beyond their reach. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. But those little minds can find a solution to just about any challenge. Which is why nothing is ever completely out of their reach..

We don’t lose that imagination with age. We shut it down. We allow what we’ve learned to become our reality instead of forgetting enough of what we’ve learned to alter that reality. Every obstacle presents new solutions. Every tool has a new use. And every challenge presents opportunity. If what’s in front of you isn’t working, sometimes all you have to do is look beyond.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Grow Old Before Your Time – And It’s Never Time

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Some days we wake up full of energy, ready to take on the day and crush anything that stands in our way. Priorities have been set, a plan is in place, and we won’t stop until everything has been finished to perfection. When sleep finally comes, it’ll be out of sheer exhaustion from all the magnificent things we’ve accomplished. Today is not that day.

After being awakened by a pretty intense thunderstorm sometime when all good people are supposed to be asleep, I was a little slow rolling out of bed this morning. It’s not a lack of enthusiasm. It’s a lack of uninterrupted sleep. We all have days like this. Thankfully for me, they only come on days ending in “y.”

I’m told waking up during the night comes with age. I hope that’s not the case, because aging is something that never stops, and I’m nowhere even close to being old. Never mind the fact that, as of tomorrow, my oldest grandson will turn 20. That doesn’t mean I’m getting old. He is.

I still remember the day he was born. Watching him grow has been more than just a privilege. It’s a gift. And, like a lot of gifts, there were days when I wanted to take it back to the store. But overall, he’s been my buddy from the start. And he’s still not too proud to give his grandpa a hug, even if other people are watching.

Still, I’ll never forget the day I took him to little league football practice. We pulled up right in front of the team and, as he went to get out of my truck I said, “Hey, what about my kiss?” He gave me that wide-eyed stare that instantly conveyed what his 9-year-old brain was thinking. “Are you freaking insane???” I guess he didn’t care to be the tackling dummy for the day.

I’ve always said aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. I’ve met people much older who are more vibrant and energetic than I was on my best day. And I’ve met others half my age who stopped living long ago. Benjamin Franklin once said that most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75. Can I get an amen?

And you know, I was part of that crowd until about 20 years ago. I don’t know if it was becoming a grandfather that breathed new life into the hollow shell I’d become. It may have been getting out of a job that sucked the life out of me, writing my humor column, getting into stand-up comedy, or any combination of things. I’m sure my wife had something to do with it.

But I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the past 20 years a lot more than the years leading up to it. As a consequence, I’ve enjoyed better health and emotional vitality than I did before. Sure, I’m starting to show some signs of wear and there are things that need a doctor’s care. But all things considered, I’ve never been healthier than I am today.

That’s not the result of modern medicine or a healthy & active lifestyle. Please, weightlifting for me involves standing up, and the closest I come to a workout is bending over to tie my shoes. The reason for my good health is simple – I made a choice to go on living instead of letting life slip away. Besides, my wife said till death do us part, and I’m letting her off that easy.

Am I tired? Sure. Do I ache? All over. I can’t run, I can’t jump, and getting up from the floor is a major event that requires advance planning, supporting staff, and the will of God. But put me in the front seat of a rollercoaster (one I can fit in) and I’m like a little kid – arms in the air, eyes wide open, and screaming “Rock and roll!” all the way down.

There are days when we feel a little older than normal. The trick is to make “normal” a boundary we set, not one that’s imposed upon us. There are things we can’t control as we age, but there are many more things we can control. And the greatest factor in our power is the degree to which we let age define us.

If you’ve lost some of that inner youth, it’s never too late to find it. Find something you enjoy, something that makes you feel young again, and make it a part of your life. We can’t beat the effects of time, but we can beat the effects of age. Age is just a number, but growing old is a state of mind. Make sure yours is what you want it to be.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Inner Youth Is Only A Dream Away

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

If you’re ever feeling old, spend a little time around some little ones. I guarantee you’ll feel that much older by the time they leave. Don’t get me wrong. I love the sound of laughter and the little songs they sing. And only a child can look at a dirty sock and see a microphone. Everything becomes a microphone. And their lungs are magically transformed into an amplifier.

On the other hand, if you ever want to feel young again, spend some time around little ones. Laughter is contagious. So are runny noses, but they’re worth the joy that comes from just one of those little hugs. And if you play along with some of their games, you’ll find yourself singing silly songs a little off-key just to make them laugh a little louder. For me, that comes naturally.

In a meeting with some business associates last night, we were talking about how our dreams change with age. When we’re young, we can envision a life filled with things only rock stars and politicians can afford. And there’s little doubt in our mind we can enjoy that life. All it takes is hard work and saving $20 every week. That’s what Dad told us. Dads do that sometimes.

Well, as it turns out, Dad forgot to mention the lottery. Because, for most of us, that’s what it would take to live the life of our dreams. Thankfully, as we age, our expectations start to fall more in line with reality. My first home was supposed to be a mansion, but it turned out to be a double-wide. You know, two trailers connected at the hip, and all that that implies.

Also, the longer we live without those creature comforts we just had to have, the more we realize they’re just fluff. I have two cars. One is new and one … isn’t. If I totaled it tomorrow, the insurance check would almost buy a loaf of bread. But you know what? It runs, and it gets me where I need to go just as fast as the new one. And if it’s raining, I can even clean the windshield.

Then there’s the fact that, the older we get, the more we think about others ahead of ourselves. If you think kids are expensive, wait until you have grandkids. Fancy things just aren’t as important when the little ones need a new iPad. Okay, I’ve never bought any of my grandkids an iPad. We go with the Walmart brand. They don’t know the difference.

But the point is, things just aren’t as important as we age. Still, that doesn’t mean we stop dreaming, nor should we. Dreams are what get us out of bed in the morning and drive us to go that extra mile. Okay, work gets us out of bed, but you get the picture. Everything we do in life is designed to achieve some goal. The trick is to make sure the goal is worth working for.

I remember driving to my grandmother’s house, down dirt roads past tin-roof shacks with no indoor plumbing, and seeing people sitting on the porch next to the washing machine. They didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It’s a simple life. And even those people have dreams. They may not be the same as ours, but they’re still just as important.

We never really lose the ability to dream. But as we get older, it takes a little more effort. You can’t do it in the middle of the workday, or as you try to tend to family matters after work. You need a little quiet time, and maybe even some visual aids. Settle down, ladies – I’m talking about pictures of the life we want to enjoy. Beaches, mountains, even snow if that’s your thing.

There’s nothing selfish about wanting things for yourself, especially if those things can be shared with those you care most about. And it’s those dreams that will energize you to work a little harder, persist a little longer, and keep a sparkle in your eye long after others your age have given up. Want to know the secret to a happy life? You already know. Just do it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Who Says You Have to Act Your Age?

Good morning, and happy Halloween! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Today is a special day for kids around the world. Okay, not just kids, but those of us who still miss the innocence of youth. The traditions are different in various parts of the world, but here in the United States, kids will dress up as their favorite super-hero, princess, villain, or spook, and go around door-to-door with a bag for us old folks to fill up with candy. Why can’t we do that for cash?

Every year, there seems to be a debate over when a kid is “too old” for Halloween. Along with every group of young children dressed up in their favorite costume, there will be one or two teenagers dressed in the clothes they wore to school, holding out a bag without saying a word. And you know what? They get candy, too. If it makes them happy and keeps them out of trouble, why not?

If you can’t enjoy the fact that they’re trying to hang onto their youth just a little longer, look at it from another perspective. The conversation goes something like this:

“Trick or Treat.”

“Aren’t you a little old for this? You’re not even wearing a costume.”

“Yes I am.”

“What are you supposed to be?”

“A juvenile delinquent. Nice place you’ve got here. Is that your car?”

Is that the conversation you want to be thinking about right before you fall asleep? I find it a lot more relaxing (and reassuring) to just enjoy the evening and everybody who comes by. Besides, you never know when one of those teenagers may be the one that comes by a month from now and offers to shovel the snow off your sidewalks.

About a month ago, before I had injections in my lower back, I had to use a cane to get around. Not for stability, but to bear weight. One day after work, as I was getting out of the car with the cane in one hand and my lunchbox and laptop in the other, a teenage boy walking down the other side of the street asked if I needed any help. This from what some people like to refer to as the “me” generation.

But that’s a story for another day. My point today is that it’s easy to look at other people and decide for ourselves whether they’re too young or too old for whatever they’re doing. Okay, too young may be more a matter of practicality than opinion. My youngest grandson would love to drive my car, but it’s safe to say he won’t be doing that any time soon.

But on the other end of the spectrum, we have people who are too old for whatever we deem fit. “Why don’t you act your age?” How many times have you heard that one? How many times have you said it? Whether it’s playing silly games as a third-grader, trick-or-treating as a teenager, or getting your ears pierced at the age of 50, people love to impose their own standards of what’s appropriate at a given age.

So, here’s the question – who decides what’s appropriate and at what age? Is there a book somewhere that I haven’t read? Was it part of the birds and bees talk that my dad conveniently skipped? Did they teach it in church when I was out of town? Seems it would help if they’d at least publish it in the newspaper once a year.

The reality is, you’re never too old for anything you can still enjoy. Period. And the moment you buy into the thinking that you’re too old, you immediately begin aging at a much faster rate. And we all know what’s on the other end of aging. So, why are we in such a hurry to speed it up? Worse yet, why are we so adamant about imposing monotony on people who are still trying to enjoy life?

There’s a time to act our age, to be certain. At work, they appreciate my sense of humor as long as I can mix it with the appropriate amount of professionalism and still get the job done. My bank appreciates deposits in excess of my withdrawals. And the mortgage company appreciates a payment each month, even if there are a lot more fun things to do with that money.

But beyond that, what’s wrong with having a little fun along the way? As adults, most of us like to get away from the kids, meet some friends, and enjoy an evening of music and laughter (and maybe even a few “adult” beverages). We went to an Elton John concert several years ago, and let me tell you, old people still know how to rock! The look on the younger people’s faces was priceless.

Don’t be so quick to teach younger people that it’s not okay to act young. Let them enjoy it a few years longer. Adulthood is coming fast enough. This is their time. Help them make the most of it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Want Me to Act Whose Age?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Today I’m taking what those of us at work commonly refer to as a “mental health day.” In other words, instead of going to a nice, quiet office and finishing up work that will certainly be waiting for me Monday morning, I’m spending the day with two preschoolers and their pre-teen cousin. Maybe my mental health is a little worse than I thought.

But I have to be honest, you can learn a lot by spending a few hours around young children. After a few hours you’ve pretty much learned enough for a day, but they don’t seem to wear down as fast as we do. Still, kids have got a grasp on life that adults seem to have lost, and I’m sure it’s what keeps them young. They don’t get old until they start spending too much time with us.

I wrote a piece several years ago titled, “Will You Please Stop Acting Your Age?” The premise was pretty simple. As parents, we often admonish our kids to act their age. It’s a rather ungratifying reaction to the immaturity and silliness of youth. You know, the predictable behavior that makes being young so special. Sometimes, “act your age” really means “act old, like me.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have people who have grown so old that they’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and have zero patience for anybody whose laughter disturbs their afternoon nap. Or their mid-morning nap, or any of the other naps they take all through the day. That also includes the times you wish they would take a nap, so they’d stop complaining. Good luck.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself acting older than I really am, if age is truly a factor in that. I’m not sure, because I see a lot of people nearly twice my age (I said nearly) who seem to have found a second youth that lights up their face like a full-day’s sunshine. So, who’s really acting their age and who’s just using age as an excuse?

I work with a small group of women who seemingly have an unnatural level of energy. They’re constantly off somewhere, exploring new destinations and enjoying the night life. Any time a volunteer opportunity arises, they’re the first to sign up. I doubt they ever spend a boring weekend sitting around the house, because there’s just too much to do. You know – like living.

Granted, two of them are about half my age but the other one has kids almost their age. Still, I was telling somebody yesterday that I don’t remember the last time I had that much energy and, even when I did, I didn’t put it to very good use. Once I had a place of my own to call home, that’s where I stayed. My wife would suggest outings, but I found a reason to pass on pretty much everything.

Now, all these years later, I would give anything to have the time and energy to do some of those things. I remember our last visit to Key West. We parked the car downtown every morning and spent the day on foot, visiting different museums, eating in different restaurants, taking a sunset cruise on an old clipper ship, sipping Pina Coladas by the pool … it was awesome.

I don’t know if I could keep up that pace for a day now. But you know what? I intend to find out. I don’t want to be one of those old people who sits around the hotel gazing down at the beach. I want to be out there where the action is, living every moment to its fullest. When my time on earth is done, I want the undertaker to say, “I tried everything, but I just can’t get that smile off his face.”

Age is simply a number. Granted, it’s a number that only goes so high before we have to hand over the keys and move on. But, for that very reason, it’s a number that should come with tons of memories and incredible stories, things that will make our great-grandchildren shake their head and say, “Wow!”

Acting our age may seem refined and dignified, and depending on the setting, it’s probably expected. But acting my age doesn’t mean I have to act old. It doesn’t mean I have to give up fun and laughter. And it doesn’t mean I can’t get down on the floor and sing silly songs with my little ones or take them on the tallest rollercoaster in the park. You know. When they’re old enough.

Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. You can enjoy life or sit around and complain about it. But remember, those little eyes are on you. If you want them to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, show ‘em how it’s done!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved