I’ve been blessed to spend quite a bit of time with my grandchildren recently and all of them are elementary school age and younger. We have spent time at the movies, in the pool, cooking out, at the arcade, and in the van transiting between all those locations. Tonight, they were in the pool again and their mom gave them the option of 15 more minutes in the pool or ice cream. They all chose pool time and were happy about it. None of them argued for both. They were just having too much fun playing with their cousins.
Over the past few days, I’ve listened to them making up stories about things, creating games, and having outlandish discussions about things they will do one day. They exude so much joy, innocence, and imagination. It made me remember when I was their age, 50+ years ago, when I used to look up at clouds all the time and see things. It probably drove my parents batty because I was constantly telling them what I saw. All the joy and innocence and imagination that filled my life. Collecting rocks, watching Batman and Gilligan’s Island, drawing airplanes, playing with plastic army men.
Then something happened. I don’t know exactly when it happened but somewhere in my timeline life got serious. Marriage, kids, miscarriages, career, school, military, cars, first home, deaths of my brother and grandparents, deployments, you name it. So what exactly happened?
I stopped looking up at the clouds.
The joy of life that my grandkids have has been gone from my life for decades and I miss it. So I decided to do something about it and here are a few of the things I started doing:
Play silly games with the grandkids in the pool.
Watch reruns of the childhood TV shows that I liked.
Deleting apps off my phone that cause me stress.
Deleting people who cause me stress and rob joy from my life.
Spending less time connected.
Turning off work after my agreed 40 hours.
Paying much less attention to the news and media.
I buy my favorite breakfast cereal from when I was a kid and have a bowl whenever I feel like it.
My Dad always shared (and still does) his Necco Wafer candy with me and so I buy them when I have the chance and eat the whole roll if I feel like it.
And now the big one. I started looking up at the clouds again and trying to see what they looked like. At first, it was difficult and all I saw was water vapor in random shapes, but the more I relaxed and listened to my grandkids talk, the more the clouds took shape.
What do you see in the picture? I see old Snoopy, looking up to the skies and remembering his days of long ago as a dashing WWI Fighter Ace. I guess in some ways that’s me too. Looking up into the skies and remembering.
Listen, 90% of the stuff in life that weighs us down is not important in the grand scheme of things. Find your clouds and don’t let them slip away.
You’ll be happier.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on July 20, 2021.
Dave holds a Master of Aeronautical Science in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is currently a senior maintenance training manager for Republic Airways. He is also a retired CMSgt, having served 4 years on active duty in the USAF and another 34 years in the Air National Guard. Dave has held a wide variety of technical, instructor, consultant, and leadership positions in his nearly 40 years of civilian and military aviation experience.