Sunday, May 21, 2017

MONKEY ON A UNICYCLE: The Serious Problem of Sillinesss

A little nonsense now and then
Is relished by the wisest men.
--Roald Dahl

Anyone who has watched Monty Python's Flying Circus will be familiar with a character played by the late Graham Chapman known simply as "The Colonel." He was a serious, level-headed, strict army man who tended to interrupt the show when he felt it was getting too silly. For most people, this is just a simple joke. For the Pythons, it was yet another way of ending a sketch without having to think of a punchline (which is the hardest part of writing a comedy sketch, by the way). But is it not possible that it is also a scathing indictment of our entire society?

Isn't it true that our society looks down on silliness? That whenever someone starts to act a little sillier than is generally accepted, someone else is always there to say "Don't be silly." Even the word silly has come to have negative connotations and is viewed as something we ought not to be.

But this is fairly typical of Society (which will be referred to from here on with a capital S). Imposing restrictions which fly in the face of human nature is what Society does best. Children, for example, are, by nature, loud, rambunctious and need to move around and touch things to aide their cognitive development. Yet our Society looks more kindly on children who sit still and keep quiet, and has little patience for children who behave the way children are built to behave.

There is another thing that children are without even having to try: Silly. Everyone of us started out silly. Observe babies and small children and you will see what I mean. As babies, we run in circles for no reason, laugh  hysterically at paper being ripped, and run around the house naked except for a pair of pants which we are wearing as a hat. And we are adored for it. Nowadays, we even become YouTube stars for it. Our parents applaud us and cheer for us being ridiculous...up to a point.

The overwhelming message Society sends is that silliness is fine as long as we grow out of it. It is regarded as something to be left behind as we pass from childhood to adulthood, a stage in life where people seem to have very little appreciation for silliness in any form.

The fundamental principle on which Galleons Lap is founded is the idea that it's never too late to enjoy your childhood. Just as Christopher Robin, upon realizing he could no longer live in his Enchanted Forest, left himself a back door though which he could escape and play with Pooh Bear for the rest of his days, so must we all maintain some link to our childhoods if we ever hope to be happy adults. Which brings us back to silliness.

I have said before that all the world's problems can be traced back to an adult who has forgotten what it's like to be a kid. I now tell you that that feeling, that childlike joy and imagination which we prize in the young and abhor in the grown, IS silliness. Feeling like a kid and feeling silly are one and the same. The greatest damage in this world has been done by people who are not in any way silly.

And if you don't agree, look at the people we got running THIS country right now. You think any of those jerks are silly? No. Stupid, yes. Silly, no.

Because silly people are the ones who change the world. Albert Einstein, Nikolai Tesla, Charlie Chaplin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Jim Henson, Benjamin Franklin, the guy who invented the pool noodle. You cannot be an innovator unless you think differently from those around you. And you cannot think differently unless your mind works differently. And another word for a mind that works differently is...(and if you've been paying attention, you'll know where I'm going with this)...SILLY!!!

So, please, don't look down your nose at us silly people. Don't call us "immature" or "childish" or advise us to "grow up." We are grown up. That's the reason we need to be silly. To keep from blowing our brains out! "Silliness is sweet syrup that helps us swallow the bitter pills of life," wrote Richelle E. Goodrich in her book Making Wishes. Or, as Steve Maraboli puts it, "Never underestimate the healing power of silliness and absurdity."

And do yourself (and everyone else) a favor and try to be a little silly yourselves. Without silliness, life is as pointless, confusing and potentially dangerous as a monkey on a unicycle.

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