I’m silly. I don’t know why. I’ve gone through phases in which I’ve tried to suppress it, times in my life when I attempted to not be silly. No good. Couldn’t do it. Failed miserable. I’ve had to face it; I’m silly.
My kids are silly too. They’re kids, so it seems more reasonable for them to be silly than it does for me. Most kids are silly. All of them are at least some of the time; all the ones I know anyway.
Occasionally, when my kids are being silly my wife looks at me as if to say, “you did that.” Like they’re silly because I’m silly. Like it’s my fault. When she does I look back at her as if to say, “don’t be silly.” Hypocritical, I know. Especially because I like it when she is (silly).
Truthfully, I believe she likes it too. After all, she did marry and proceeded to have four children with me. To tell a family secret, I was considerably silly even before any of that happened, and she darn well knew it.
I think she appreciates the silliness she’s surrounded herself with. At the very least, she couldn’t be entirely surprised that she’s become the mother of a veritable pack of silly kids. It’s a reality that might have been anticipated with very little thought and almost no effort.
I think she did it with intention. I think there was a moment along the way during which she thought, “this is silly,” followed by, “and I like it.”
I’m not suggesting that there isn’t threshold to reasonable, meaningful, and positively impactful silliness, that we should spend all of our time telling outrageous stories in broken, unidentifiable accents, or dancing around at all hours of the day and night with socks on our ears and stew pots on our heads. I am, however, suggesting that sometimes when we do those and other silly things, it makes us feel good and enhances our lives.
I’m also suggesting that there are degrees of silliness, and that if we take our silliness seriously we can use it for the greater good, ours and that of those we serve.
I’m suggesting that when someone says something truly silly like, “don’t be silly,” that someone is at least slightly misguided, and possibly significantly (misguided).
I say, do be silly. Seriously.
Is it silly to think that anything is possible? I say think it.
Is it silly to consider that being joyful spreads joyfulness? I say consider it.
Is it silly for parents and educators to praise our kids for being hard working and persistent rather than “smart?” I say praise on.
Is it silly to focus more on accumulating courage, creativity, and kindness than money and stuff? I say shift that focus.
Over the course of my forty-two years too many silly things have turned out to be wonderful. Silly has taught me too much. Silly has felt too good. Silly has helped me overcome too consistently. Silly has shown me the way to positive progress and reminded me not to take any of it too seriously. It simply moves too fast, and some of what seems to matter so much, turns out to matters so little (if at all).
At times I’ve confused my own silly with naïve, but it’s not. It’s silly, and it’s ok. In fact, I firmly believe it’s a source of strength. I can be silly and sophisticated at the same time. Frankly, I’d rather be silly than sophisticated. It’s considerably more fun.
If you’re already silly, keep it up. If not, try it out.
Put a toe in, take it slow, and stretch yourself.
If you’re resolutely serious it might feel strange at first, but don’t give up.
At the very least, look extremely closely and consider silly a viable alternative when serious seems like it might actually be silly in disguise. Seriously.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.