When I was about kindergarten age my parents owned a hardware store. After school I’d sit on the floor in the store and play with the toys off the shelf. I didn’t mess them up and all I wanted was a few minutes with each one to see what it was like — after which I never really cared if I saw that toy again.
When I had aged a few years my mom figured out that if she kept a copy of the Sears Catalog in the house I would page through the toys, visualize what it was like to play with various ones — lose my fascination with them — and no longer care about whatever was the highly touted toy of the season. The trick worked too. For years they did that! Of course being a little boy, some of the time I got sidetracked by the ladies underwear pages — but then I suppose that might have been true of any young boy in any town. Boy’s do wonder about what’s under all those clothes!
Part of my weight loss regime is LOOKING at recipes. Just like toys and lingerie — if I see a picture and read the ingredients I can visualize (well, I guess I pretend to imagine the flavor) what it’s going to taste like and I don’t actually need to cook the recipe. Granted, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes I talk myself into a trip to the grocery, but most of the time knowing what’s in it is enough to forestall my need to consume it.
I don’t know if that would work for anyone else — some people I know are way to influenced by what they see and they just have to make all those recipes — but it often works for me.
This process makes me wonder about other forms of vicarious fulfillment. I think that as I have aged there are more and more things that I’m quite happy knowing about — that I don’t need to experience. I could use as an example roller coasters — but to be honest, I’ve never been keen on roller coasters in the first place. Imagining what the are like is more than enough thrill for me!
I remember when I was in my 30’s & 40’s that we would go places as a family and my parents or Peg’s dad (mom has passed only 2 years after we were married) would go along with us and the ‘old folks’ often opted out of doing whatever we were doing. At the time I remember wondering why they didn’t want to join in the fun. I think now I know why; there comes a time when you don’t absolutely have to do what the young ones are doing! And you don’t mind when they go ahead without you.
Until recently, I’d never been that guy. I remember one time when we were in on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Kathryn was just a little tike — still in diapers — and we had pulled over on the side of the parkway to change a diaper. (I say “we” but it was really Peggy doing the changing) While the girls were busy I got out of the car and as we were parked alongside a blasted wall of rock I decided to climb up on tope and get a better view. About the time I got to the top Peggy had finished with the diaper and moved so that Kathryn — lying on the back seat of the car and looking up — out the side window — could see me 20 some feet up in the air. By the time she made it known to momma that daddy was way up there I was in deep trouble for going off adventuring while they were doing needful things. For some reason I never forgot about that — but ever after I have been urged to stay away from cliffs, steep drop-offs, and other falling hazards. 🙃 Maybe that was why I took my photo trips solo — no one was there to see what I wasn’t supposed to be doing.
I know for a fact that I used to drive more aggressively than I do now. And I still remember the feeling of doing a 720º in the median on the Indiana Turnpike. That’s not something I want to do again. And when I was driving commercially one of the things we did before the company put me on the road was to send me to “jack-knife” school where they taught us how to keep a truck on the road of you lost control of the trailer. I think the years on the road and the things I saw were enough to satisfy my need for adrenalin rushes.
I don’t think I have changed in the sense of not wanting to learn or experience things. I think what has happened is that having experienced a lot of things I’m more interested now in how those things affect or are impacted by others. For example, I sometimes find less pleasure in climbing to the top of the church steeple, or photographing the church, and more pleasure in seeing how those things affect others:
It’s interesting the way we change over time. Our character may not change, but our personality wavers with place in life. I’ve seen people with serious jobs go from happy-go-lucky to somber, and others who lost all hope and seemed to shrivel on the vine of life. A few have fought the battle more successfully and have remained positive and upbeat through out life, but I think it’s hard to suffer life’s knocks and concussions and not have it affect one’s attitude. It’s true that we aren’t all affected the same way by the same experiences. I for one am not ever going to judge the way they react — seeing as I have no idea what they may have gone through to get to that point. And we all have bad days no matter how upbeat we might be.
I really don’t mind that some of my joys are vicarious nowadays. I’m not a worn out old geezer but I don’t have as much energy as I used to have. It’s nice sometimes to let the young’uns run ahead, or to sit on a bench while they to chasing up and down a hill. There wasn’t much that I wanted to do that I never did — so I’ve got no complaints. And it’s actually nice to be able to watch other people having fun. I’m not sure I let the fun of other people sink into my brain enough in earlier years. I was always thinking something. I’m not sure I spent enough time vicariously enjoying the joy of others. And maybe that’s part of the fun of volunteering here. I get a wonderful chance to see other people having fun at the same time that I am too. Win-Win.
Thanks for stopping by, and why not stop by tomorrow for another chat?