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Aaron Johnson: Exuberance lost

I honestly don’t remember the last time I was ecstatic over anything.

Maybe life has a way of sucking the exuberance out of the little things we used to enjoy so much. As a child, the greatest joy was building a dam in the ditch when a spring rain fell. Later it was the joy of my red Schwinn Speedster.

Still later, it was a Saturday spent on the back of my horse, Dolly. Really, it was thrilling to pack a lunch along with snacks and my Daisy BB gun and ride off into the wilderness like Daniel Boone. Today, I would have to make sure it wasn’t too hot outside.

Today it takes more to thrill me than it did as a child. I miss those moments of ecstatic experiences.

Remember the thrill of a new pack of gum that came with baseball cards? I never collected them. I just took a clothespin and clipped them on the fender brace of my Schwinn to  make it sound like a motorcycle. Who knows how many cards I destroyed that would be worth good money today?

My wife, Denise, and I are blessed to be grandparents to five wonderful children. Three live in metro Atlanta and call me “Pop.” Two others live on a nearby farm and call me “Paw.” Either one is fine with me. I would come when they called me no matter what title they chose.

A few weeks ago, it was spring break in our oldest granddaughter’s school in Georgia. We seized the opportunity and took her and her three-year-old little sister to the beach. We have a travel trailer and use it as much as possible. This was a great opportunity to both camp and spend quality time with two adorable grands.

After setting up we got to the beach as quickly as possible. I took my place in my new “awareness” chair.

I call it that because my seat was about half an inch off the sand and when I tried to get up, I became painfully aware that I am not 25 anymore. There I sat, firmly in place I might add, as two little girls played.

Lydia is 11 and was busy building a sand castle that never seemed to be complete. Anna is 3 and has explosive energy. Anna would run about 20 yards, then jump up and fall to  her knees in the surf while clutching two fists filled with wet sand that slipped between her fingers. She would then jump to her feet and run the 20 yards back to make her contribution to the building project.

As soon as her spoonful of wet sand was deposited, she would run with equal fury to the west and repeat the same exercise. With each bound she would bubble with childlike delight. She never tired of just running and jumping, and clutching sand that evaporates.
One time she was running to the west and forgot to stop.

There I sat in my awareness chair watching her grow smaller and smaller. All I could think was, “I sure am going to miss her.”

Then it dawned on me! I have another grandchild who is well capable of running down a fleeing cheetah! “Lydia,” I shouted. “Get Anna!”

With elasticity and energy reserved for the young, she jumped up and had Anna in hand just before she entered the next time zone.

Whew! Glad I thought of that.

Watching the completely pure exuberance in my granddaughters brought back so many memories.

Which also makes me think – I miss simple.

Maybe I will go ride my bike today, or find a mud puddle, or maybe build a ramp and see how many of the neighborhood kids I can jump.

Or maybe I could take in an hour of the therapy on my Harley.

It doesn’t need baseball cards.

Aaron Johnson is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. He is pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.

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