I think some of life’s most enjoyable moments come when we forget about our worries and act like carefree little kids again.
And perhaps twirl in the sunshine.
Last week, one of my coworkers was really stressed out. She is in the process of buying a new house while simultaneously planning her wedding. Oy vey. I don’t even want to think about the stress levels involved—I think it’s a big enough task trying to find a new apartment complex without the combination of the whole matrimony thing. Needless to say (or maybe it’s needed because perhaps it’s not that common), her eye had been twitching for two days straight by the end of the week.
To make matters worse for her, she had a really bad lunch on Friday. She sat down with a salad she thought was going to be really good and ended up only having a few bites. I could have warned her that her salad was going to be a disaster—I mean, it had no croutons, there was some gross-looking dressing (and certainly not enough dressing to drown out all of the lettuce), the chicken looked more like something that wasn’t chicken, and it was one of those pre-made packaged salads from the grocery store (even if it was from Trader Joe’s). A true quality salad usually looks a lot different than what she had in front of her.
Not too long after that disappointment, she mentioned she was going downstairs to buy a sandwich from the store most people like to get lunch from. I offered to walk with her because sometimes people just need others to walk with them. On the elevator ride down, I let her talk out some of her frustrations. When we got to the first floor, I told her we had something we needed to do before we went to the sandwich shop.
We needed freedom.
We went outside, and the weather felt great. It had rained on Thursday and had been gloomy all day, so the warmth and sunshine were refreshing. Plus, I feel like the sun can naturally put people in better moods. I told her that we were going to de-stress, so I made her close her eyes, clear all of the stresses from her mind, shrug her shoulders, and then dust those stresses off of her shoulders. (It’s something I used to to with my students who were stressing over those high school problems that seem to be the size of the world at the time they’re happening.) But the last part was the most important: the twirling. We both spread our arms out as big as we could and then just twirled around in the sun as if no one were watching us and as if there were no troubles to worry about. And you know what? It felt good. I had been fretting about a variety of things myself and needed the reminder of something I often forget.
Life isn’t always as serious as we make it to be.
We went back inside, and she said she felt better and needed that. Then she got her sandwich, which she really needed. Sandwiches are magical. If you don’t believe me, trust Joey from Friends.
I’m guilty of letting myself get so caught up in things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of life. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be on time to everything and to finish every single thing written in my planner every day. Sometimes I want to chunk my planner into the ocean (there is no ocean near me, and my planner is actually really cute, so I don’t think I would) because of all the junk it has written in it. I want spontaneity. I want to twirl.
On Sunday morning, I took an impromptu drive to the lake with my parents so they could check the water levels. There’s a bike trail there that my dad loves to ride, and my mom either rides or runs it, and it’s been closed for a long time since all of the flooding we had a while back. I walked some of the trail with them and got sand all in my flip flops and dirtied up my feet. But it felt so nice—there was peace in briefly escaping from my schedule and my city life to stand in the sunshine and stare out at the beauty of the lake. It’s possible I even twirled a little. I mean, why not?
Life is hard. It just is. Plans don’t go our way, people break their promises and sometimes our hearts, time seems to fly and escape us all at once, and the list goes on of reasons why being a human just isn’t easy in so many different moments. But there’s always time for freedom if you make it. It might look different for you—maybe your freedom is some form of meditation or yoga, or perhaps you like to beat the crap out of a punching bag, or maybe you belt out songs in your car as if it were your own live concert venue. And it’s OK to do things people think are silly. They wouldn’t think that if they did them, too. Climb a tree. Dance in the middle of anywhere. Run through sprinklers. Join a kickball league.
Stress is going to happen. It’s inevitable. But we don’t have to let it defeat us, and we certainly don’t have to let it keep us from having fun and enjoying the small moments in life that are really bigger than we think.
And we don’t ever have to be afraid to twirl in the sunshine.