There are a lot of great things about growing older. I think I generally like it a lot. Nevertheless, there is a lot of value in remembering to always stay young, curious, and I think especially to try new things.
Yesterday I visited the newest addition to Northwest Arkansas: the Amazeum. It’s a hands on museum for kids and families. But that didn’t stop a group of excited 20 somethings from visiting and generally thinking it was pretty awesome. Everything in the museum is designed to touch, and I realized how accustom I’ve become to NOT touching things in museums (I’m a historian after all–the horrors!). It was very freeing!
My highlight though was a moment where my friends and I decided to climb into the leaf/forrest/canopy. Don’t worry, the museum staff said adults were totally welcome to climb on this thing! It’s designed for little people, so spaces are small. Sometimes, if you are averaged sized, you can stand up, and sometimes you have to crawl. Somehow half us us ended up in the middle of the whole thing, about 20 feet in the air (don’t worry, lots of safety netting all around). The only way forward was down a rather small staircase of leaf/pod/things, a feat which was going to require some significant acrobatics and flexibility on my part. That was all well and good, but kids kept coming up the same way I wanted to go down. Going back would be an option, but same problem there: too many kids. I should add that we were the only ones on this thing when we started, and somehow there was suddenly a small army of children romping around the magical leaf forrest. Children, also have no problems merrily passing you and making the whole thing look like a piece of cake.
Anyway, all that to say that there’s really nothing like squatting on a (maybe) 4 foot wide platform in the air, with hardly enough room to turn around (if you are adult sized), and finding yourself overtaken by children. It’s a good time to reflect on the whole growing up thing, I think. Sure, there’s a lot of great things about all the learning and life that happens as you grow up. But let’s face it, the kids were having way more fun, and totally showing up all of the adults on this thing (and my friends and I weren’t the only “old” people trying not to look to oversized as we treaded on this thing). Thankfully the steady stream of children finally all got passed me, and I was able to make a hasty retreat back the way I came.
I’m a big believer in trying new things, but the experience also reminded me how easy it is to become safe. Most of the kids in the museum were happy to try anything and everything the museum had to offer. The adults were the ones who took a while to try things out. Maybe it’s a fear of what other people will thing, or maybe it’s just an ingrained pattern that we slowly succumb to as we age. I’m not sure that everyone needs to try the leafy skyway at the Amazeum to change that, but hopefully we can keep looking for new ideas, new experiences, and new adventures. I think doing that can keep us a little younger (at least at heart) in a good way.