Growing Old, Not Up

As mentioned a few times before, I’m mumblety-two years old.  Let’s just say I watched Ike through the slats of my crib on the ol’ black and white television with all of three channels.

Admittedly, that’s chronological age.  Emotionally I’m still a kid.  I like to play.

I was talking recently with a friend in more or less the same line of work* about how difficult it is in a career to balance work and play.  If you act like you want and play, even if you are very capable at what you do, you don’t go up the corporate ladder.  However, if you “act your age”, you’re liable to burn out and become painfully cynical.  Me?  I’m in the second phase of my career.  In the first phase, I was smart enough to rise up the corporate ladder.  I also saw the rare other high level executives who could still play, while being effective and efficient at their jobs.  Therefore, I thought I could as well.  That philosophy came crashing down when I hurt my neck crashing into the “act your age” glass ceiling.  While those other executives snuck through, I was stopped cold.  And done.  And cynical.

But not dead.  I came back in a similar job in the same bureaucracy, but starting over.

I’m trying to recapture the playfulness, both personally and at work.  Work is too serious to be taken seriously.  Hell, LIFE is much too serious to be taken seriously.  You need to work hard—and live seriously—yes, but have fun doing so.

Two events helped me see this is both harder…and easier…than I thought it would be.

First was a mandatory workshop set up by my bosses.  It was intended to teach us to think creatively and synergistically to solve problems.  On
arriving at the workshop, I was delighted to see little toys — legos, plastic cars, bouncy balls, crayons.  The workshop facilitators hit it right away–“You need to have fun at your job to be creative at your job.”  Excellent!!  Finally an advocate of the way I like to work.  I fell full throttle into the class.  I was multi-processing, playing with the toys while still listening to the facilitator and participating in the exercises.  Those around me (who happened to be from my office) were doing the same.  Comes the first break and a facilitator walks up to us, “I’ve been asked to tell you to tone it down.  You’re having fun is distracting the others from their learning.”  “Okay, let me get this straight… having fun is distracting from learning that having fun is essential to job creativity?”  “Right.”  My energy for support and participation in the workshop went from 100% to 0% in a matter of moments.  I used much of the remainder of the meeting using the crayons…quietly…to write over and over, “Shut Up And Color”.

It’s going to be hard…

The second was a recent and brief interlude in life.  A passing moment.  I went shopping at one of those warehouse stores and bought a bunch of
stuff for my condo.  It was very busy that day and I had to park quite a distance away.  Feeling the need, I started running with the shopping cart, getting it up to speed, then jumping on the back for a ride down the parking aisle (visions of the movie ‘Titanic’, on the bowsprit, “I’m the king of the world!!”).  It was exhilarating.  Whenever the cart slowed down, I repeated the process.  Just before getting to my car…and just as I had jumped off…a car comes pulling up beside me.  The lady driving rolled down the window and hollered, “Hey!”  Now, she looked to be about my age, as well as seeming a no-nonsense mom type.  Just because I’m mumblety-two doesn’t mean I won’t react to a Mom calling me to task.  I looked at her sheepishly**, already feeling busted for the crime of exuberance.  Then she stuck her lecturing finger out at me.  I’m thinking,  Uh-oh.  The ‘lecturing finger’!  I’m really in for it now.”  Then her words came out, slowly and deliberately, “Don’t. You. Ever. Stop. Playing.”  Shock…Escape…Vindication!  She went on to say we’re all too serious in life and a little bit of happiness should be pursued wherever you can find it.  I thanked her profusely and wished her a happy day.

It’s not going to be that hard…

Balance?  Yep, still working on it.  More so, I need to work on not giving a crap what others think.

…and just have fun.

*meaning they more or less understand me and how i relate to my job…more or less…



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11 Responses to “Growing Old, Not Up”

  1. silverstar98121 Says:

    I can’t believe that instructor. Why didn’t s/he tell the rest of them the class was experiential, and to lighten up? :hell/handbasket:

    In the immortal words of Fleetwood Mac, “Go your own way.”

  2. Sassy Miss P Says:

    Growing old is inevitable. Growing up, now, that’s a different equation. It’s good to never lose sight of the child inside.

  3. daisyfae Says:

    Regarding the instructor – from the mouth of Bart Simpson, paraphrased… “There’s a stick up the butt of the stick up her butt…”

  4. hisqueen1 Says:

    Now is the time to use your crayons and keep quiet. If the upper enchelon doesn’t realize you’re there, they can’t lay you off. Glad to see you still have a job. Unfortunately my dad was just layed off from A.G. After years of being able to stay just under the wire, they found him. Pretty sure it was because he was the highest paid in his department and he should have retired about 3yrs ago. Now he hangs out w/ wife and shovels snow in his snowbelt driveway.

    P.S. Nice to see someone else getting into trouble for having too much fun. Haven’t been in the work field as long as you ( my ways of saying I’m not old) =)~ (getting there but not yet), but have gotten into my share of “settle down” situations. You must not laugh when working in a hospital, it may cheer up the patients.

  5. kyknoord Says:

    I think I had the same instructor who told me, “There’s a time and a place for spontaneity!”

  6. UncleKeith Says:

    Ha! You keep saying “hard”.

  7. Rob Says:

    not giving a crap what others think

    That has long been my mantra. I have travelled through life rarely giving a shit about what others thought of me. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I’ve “played the part” when necessary. After all I’m not an idiot (at least, I don’t think I am…)

    Other pearls of wisdom I’ve collected along the way:

    > Life is short; live large.
    > A million years from now none of this will matter.
    > And so on….

    I can’t believe that instructor though. Personally I’d rather have bamboo shoots stuck under my nails than go to one of those “team building” psycho babble bullshit sessions, but that instructor was way out of line. And likely needed to be taken down a notch or two.

    Yep, a lot of folks take themselves pretty seriously…

    As for the whole corporate ladder thing, I’ve heard that there have been zero recorded cases of some poor bastard on their deathbed whispering, “I wish I’d spent more time at work….”

    Work to Live (not Live to Work).

  8. lucidlunatic Says:

    I’m fortunate in that, right now, my work is roughly equivalent to my play. At least I can pretend a lot of my play is work. The joys of science.

    There are times though, when someone thinks I’m getting carried away. This can result in a one-sided flaming row as they argue with my cheerful complexion.

    As for outside of work, hell, today I ran outside to frolic in the snow. In public, because I had nothing else I was supposed to be doing at the time. Just try to stop me from enjoying myself.

  9. thegnukid Says:

    silverstar – why didn’t i listen to rock and roll more. such wisdom in those songs. and, yeah, i just accepted that the instructor was a twit and went my own way. it was still fun coloring.

    miss p – i can’t lose sight of my inner child. he’s too busy setting the mailman’s shoes on fire and bricking up the door to the bathroom and asking for a quicksand pile and…

    daisyfae – truer words are rarely spoken. and if they are, the police will be at the door to ask questions…

    kyknoord – laughin’… said by the same person who prayed, “Dear God, give me patience and give it to me NOW!”

    U.K. – hur hur hur hur… it’s good to know i’m not alone in my finding perversion in every day words.

    rob – needless to say, i slammed the instructor (no, U.K., not ‘that’ way) on the critique form at the end of the course. not just giving low scores, but i also wrote prolifically on the comment section about how ludicrous they were.

    lucidlunatic – ah, lucky… living the job of joy. to enjoy what you do at work is a blessing. i never found, nor do i still know, just what the hell i could work at that would brighten my days. well, that’s legal anyway… or pays money…

  10. Kym Says:

    I hope you left the sheet of paper for the instructor to find!

  11. thegnukid Says:

    kym – i didn’t leave it… i enjoyed the results so much i took it back to the office and posted it there. well, i did leave it out during breaks for all to see and made no attempt to hide what i was doing when the instructor walked by.

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