One thing I’ve learned over the past five years with my Seeking Shama journey is that the absolute best way to kick start the flow of my life and keep things fresh is to step outside of the box. When I start to feel blue, it’s usually because I’m stuck in a rut and have let life become stagnant and stale with routine. That’s when I know I need to shake things up. My favorite way of doing that is road tripping with Yoda. Without fail, we meet people and have unexpected adventures that breath new life into my veins. Yet it’s not always convenient to pack up the car and hit the road. So what to do when daily obligations have me tethered to home? A 9-year-old boy gave me the solution yesterday with Jack Day.
My friend Karen’s husband and youngest son are out of town this weekend. So she and her oldest son Jack invited me to have a Jack Day with them yesterday, a day that was to be all about having fun with Jack. We met for breakfast and each wrote three ideas for an activity on Post-it Notes. Then we drew one of each of our ideas out of a hat and proceeded to spend the next eight hours doing them.
First up, laser tag at Blazer Tag, the largest laser tag arena in Texas (guess whose idea this one was?). Trust me, this is something Karen and I would never have chosen to do on our own. We were the oldest people in the arena, and not surprisingly, we came in last place. In fact, at one point we were both doing so poorly that we stood next to each other and took turns shooting the other so we could wrack up some points.
Next up was Karen’s idea of visiting Inner Space Cavern. This extraordinary cave system is estimated to be 90-100 million years old, and skeletons of prehistoric Ice-Age animals have even been found there. After an hour tour, we bought Jack a cherry ICEE and piled back into the car to head to our final activity for the day.
First up, we stopped at Lowes and bought three cans of spray paint: orange, purple and green. Then we drove to Austin’s Baylor Street Art Wall, a graffiti park at an abandoned construction site that is open to the public. With all the rain we’ve had recently in Central Texas, the place was a bit of a mud pit. But that didn’t stop the throngs of spirited people armed with cans of paint.
Jack and I painted matching peace signs, and then the three of us took off in opposite directions to hike and climb around the mammoth park to experience on our own all the different layers of graffiti. This outdoor art park is the kind of place that captures the unique, creative, free-spirited part of Austin that I fell in love with when I first moved here four years ago. Eventually, the rain got the best of us and we decided to call it a day.
By that point, I felt every bit my age. I was so exhausted from our eight hours together that I was actually sound asleep by 9pm last night. But when I woke up this morning, I must say, I feel lighter, happier, and less stuck in my rut. The flow in my life has started again, all thanks to a 9-year-old. One of the bits of graffiti from yesterday that spoke to me the most about keeping life fresh was where someone painted “HAPINESS [sic] IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT…” How true that is.
Quite possibly the secret to ongoing happiness is to shake up my normal routine and have a Jack Day more often.