Remember those heavenly care-free days of fun when "stress" was just a word and not a way of life? When SARS was just another outbreak designed to keep us away from the local post office and obligations were few and far between? There was no such thing as tomorrows or responsibilities, hash tags or broken hearts. The sky was as blue as we wanted it to be and fun was the only agenda that mattered. Not a single care or worry in the world...just pure unadulterated child-like bliss.
At some point in our lives, most of us stop playing and give in to the demands of day-to-day living. The idea of possibility becomes immature and obsolete, gradually exchanged for something more substantial and finite. We cash in our hopes and dreams for rent-controlled apartments and promising life policies; funeral plans and platinum medical aid packages. Instead of letting our hair down, we're too busy pulling it out working ourselves to a slow and painful death over some promotion we didn't want in the first place. We succumb to counting calories and stick to unimaginative regimens that allow no room for spontaneity. The energy that could once light a fire was now reserved for that precious hour on the elliptical - if and when it became available. "I can" becomes "I just can't" and before you know it you barely recognise that grumpy old cow glaring back at you in the mirror.
The stress of life had finally gotten the better of Diana Di Lorentis. She had once dreamed of being a professional dancer and wanted nothing more than to entertain the masses through freedom of movement. She was optimistic and hopeful until one day, some evil blonde bitch in cerulean lycra told her that she simply wasn't good enough. Although Diana had always been praised for her talents by so many others, it took only one comment for her to stop believing in herself. Her dancing went from passion to hobby and she now spends her days working twelve hour shifts as an inbound tour operator for some of the world's most ungrateful assholes. She gradually transformed into a shell of her former self until one day the light seemed to have disappeared completely.
It was Brenda's 30th birthday weekend and Diana was feeling particularly bitter about her own life. She had had a week from hell which included a serious bout of depression as well as a strain of stress-related skin disease that took weeks to cure. She refused to drink or take part in any of the festivities and seemed almost determined to spoil the party with one of her trademark wheel-spin mood swings. In a matter of sixty seconds, she had gone from the wonderful girl we all knew and loved to the miserable bitch she had allowed herself to become. Was she offended by the lack of maturity in the room or had she simply resented the fact that everyone else was having fun? Either her bun was on too tight or she had simply forgotten how to let go and enjoy herself.
The next morning, Diana decided to bury herself in work in order to take her mind off the things that people were saying about her. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and suddenly realised what a buzzkill she had been. She'd had enough. She immediately slammed her laptop shut and decided that it was time to join the party. She bought gumboots and splashed around in the mud and even peed in a bush before indulging in a massive plate of delicious carbohydrates. It only took four swigs of Sauvignon Blanc for Diana to let her hair down on the dance floor....literally. Locks of gorgeous curly brown hair whipping back and forth until two in the morning. If you could freeze-frame that moment, you would see Diana's spirit. Not a care in the world...just Dee, the beat and the dance.
They say that growing old is mandatory and that growing up is optional. The way I see it, life has a way of lobotomising even the most precious soul and if we are not careful, we may grow up a little too fast a little too soon. The pace of daily living and the stress that comes with it makes it so easy for us to lose ourselves that we forget to take a moment and appreciate the simple things in life. Play, laugh, dance, love. You only live once so you may as well spend it doing the things that keep you young and happy.
When it comes to life in general, do we stop playing because we grow too old or do we grow old because we stop playing?