A Cure for Seriousness

David - Anderson, Indiana
Entered on January 6, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I have read many of the “This I Believe” essays and many of the topics were intriguing and eye opening. They led me to think about what I believe. I know that I believe strongly in many things like faith, humility, kindness and hard work, but when I sat down to write my own “This I Believe” statement I found it hard to be serious or profound about these things. Now don’t get me wrong, I can be a serious person and anyone who knows me well will willingly tell you that I love deep debates covering various issues. Yet as I get older I am beginning to realize that although these issues matter, I need to “lighten up” from time to time. So that brings me to my “This I Believe” statement. I believe in being silly.

As serious as a person as I can be, I often find myself in front of my mirror making faces. I’m not training to be an actor or stand-up comic but I get a kick out of it. It’s fun. It’s an end in and of itself. I also sing loudly and “do” voices when nobody is around, besides my wife, who often doesn’t appreciate the singing or voices as much as I do, but the point is that its just silly. It’s whimsical and child-like. I, like many people, sometimes wish that I could just be a kid again, at least for a little while to get a way from it all. However, we are often too afraid to embrace being silly in a childlike way. For me, I think that it is because I know that there are so many wrongs in this world and so much to think about, discuss and be responsible for that I shouldn’t bother with the “silly.” Yet I still find myself in front of that mirror doing the best goofy face that I can. I guess this is the child in me escaping to the surface for just a moment.

What this child is bringing me to understand is that we need the silly and absurd. We need to break with the gruesome details of life and escape into our minds as they were at 9 years old. There is a simple genius in being silly that allows us to briefly ignore the complexities of life to embrace the illogical and irrational. The sound of the word itself is indicative of its meaning. I am not sure what is that causes us, as adults, to think that being grown-up means permanently locking up the child that is in all of us. Yet, I am sure that being a grown-up should be knowing when to quiet the child and when to let him loose to run as fast as he can, not for an aerobic work out, but because we just want to see how fast he can really go.

Being silly does something else too. When you embrace it, it humbles you. It forces you to not take yourself so seriously. It puts things in perspective by reconnecting yourself with the kid inside. For me, this is the kid that wasn’t worried about getting a promotion or being the best at what they do, but loved building forts and blowing bubbles in his milk. Through being silly, I am learning to focus more on these fleeting moments of happiness and joy than fear of the great occasions of defeat or failure.

So what do I believe? I believe in pepperoni smiles on pizzas, squishing your toes in mud, wearing different colored socks for a day and armpit bodily function sound effects. I believe in being silly and what it does for the soul.