“Welcome to the real world, kid,” “It’s time to grow up.” Do these phrases sound familiar? The idea of growing older is often associated with stepping away from our childlike playfulness and curiosity. I would like to propose that when we reclaim our sense of whimsy we will live a life with a greater connection to the people around us and even to ourselves.
Patrick Griffey stirring up sand as he cuts back and forth down a sand dune in Michigan. Photo Courtesy of Luke Little
Whimsy is playfulness that can be compared to that of a child.
Think back to an unexpected adventure from your childhood.
What kinds of emotions do you feel about this memory? How connected did you feel to the people around you? Is this a memory you cherish?
Chances are this is a story you love to tell, and you probably cherish this moment with the people who were with you.
This is because whimsy and the spirit of adventure takes us out of our comfort zone and fills us with joy and curiosity.
When I was in high school I lived only a mile from the lake.
It was a tradition that every summer a group of friends and I would journey out to an island in the middle of the lake for a day.
It was a warm summer morning and we started our journey to the island on our various rafts and kayaks as the sun was beginning to rise and its golden reflection radiated across the entire lake.
We safely made it to the island and stayed there for a few hours before receiving a call that there was a large storm headed our way.
We had two options, we could either stay on the island and wait for the storm to pass, or we could brave the storm with our small rafts and kayaks.
At that moment something shifted in my mind.
I could feel the inner captain from my childhood imagination returning to face the unknown.
We untied our rafts and set out to face the constantly growing waves of the storm.
“All Hands on Deck.” Our rafts were rocked and tossed about, making it nearly impossible to keep our course to the shore in front of us.
Despite the dangerous situation, my heart was pounding with excitement.
“Land Ho!” Our rafts hit shore, and our crew hopped out soaked from head to toe.
These are the moments that I feel the most alive.
When I take the risk and face the waves, this is where I find my fervor for the life I live.
Whimsy gives us the ability to connect with other people in amazing ways.
It allows us to relieve tension and create an environment where people feel like they can be themselves.
But where we start to see the real power of whimsy is when we see how it affects ourselves.
It feels like a return to our childlike selves, the you that was filled with curiosity and not afraid of failure.
So many of us have forgotten our sense of whimsy and live a life without much variety and excitement.
Bob Goff, author of “Love Does” and “Everybody Always,” expresses this well. “Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget.”
What would happen if we stepped back into a life of playfulness, curiosity and fervor? What if we saw every day as a grand adventure? What if a stroll in the woods became an expedition to discover the great unknown again?
I believe we would begin to remember the power of whimsy.