Serious fun

I used to read a lot when I was a child. A lot. In fact, I used to read so much, I wonder how much of a child I was. I would rather have books than company. I would rather read than play. More than once my parents were called into school by teachers who were disconcerted by my precocious love of reading.

In some senses, I think that this serious attitude of mine helped me grow up quickly. But, at the same time, I think it stunted my development in various other ways. It is as if I’d been a grown-up since I was little, and not always in a good way. People can be unreasonably rational sometimes.

A few weeks ago I posted something about neoteny, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Call it Peter Pan syndrome, call it what you will, but there’s something seriously important about being playful. Seriously. And I’m having a great time awakening my inner child (a serious child it is, but still a child).

When I was growing up, I was led to believe that one could not be good at both books and sports. And since I could not remember a time when I did not love reading, I figured that my choice had been made, and therefore it would be greedy of me to also like sports. So I got into this self-fulfilling prophecy that I was “really disastrous” at anything that involved physical movement.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I figured that this either/or mind-body dichotomy was a myth — one that is not only silly, but also harmful. Ever since I’ve been trying to reverse the effects of 25 years of sedentary life, not always successfully (though I’m glad I decided to do it now rather than wait another 25 years).

First it was biking, and then dancing, and then moving from my belly-button. Yesterday I hit some golf balls for the first time. And played frisbee. And jumped on a trampolin. And to my great surprise, it was not a disaster. On the contrary.

Now one self-fulfilling prophecy gives way to another one: and a much more self-fulfilling one at that! Hope my books don’t get too jealous, and if they do, well, too bad for them!


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