I was at a street fair last summer when Little Buddy was first toddling along and knew how to dance just by wobbling back and forth and waving his arms. We were walking with my parents and came across one of the booths playing some music.
If you haven’t ever been to a New York street fair, they are tremendous fun. One of the North-South avenues is blocked off for 30 or 40 blocks and a variety of vendors fill up the streets and pedestrian traffic fills it up quickly. Everything is sold: sheets and bamboo mats, CDs and funnel cakes, high end purses and knockoffs of high end purses. Music blares from every corner, the smell of fried foods and kebabs and onions fill the air, and a good time is had by all.
So in the midst of this street fair Little Buddy tottered along with a protective father hovering over him. We came by a booth selling reggae CDs and blasting out reggae music (or faux reggae – UB40’s “Red Red Wine” – but it’s all good). He stopped and listened, entranced. Two guys who were either rastafarians or very accurate imitators of rastafari style were leaning against the booth, smoking. I am no expert (although I am not a complete naïf) but the smell of their smoke was not exactly cigarette smoke. Eh, no matter, it’s all-natural, after all. I was ready to pass on by with a wry smile, as I do.
But Little Buddy marched up to them and started to dance, beaming like the sun. He turned around in front of the two of them and danced. Everyone walking by laughed. He swayed and popped to the music. One of the two guys turned to me and said, “He is irie, mon, he is irie an’ he don’ care who know.” (That’s my poor written imitation of a Jamaican accent, and it sounds – to me, a fan of reggae music, the most positive, happy music I know – almost unbearably cool). It was a nice comment to make to a still-relatively-new father.
But that’s not the point – the point was that Little Buddy saw his happiness and grabbed it. Children have a way of doing this. They don’t think of consequence and they don’t think of fear or embarrassment. It’s not always a good thing – sometimes caution is necessary – but adults have definitely had this ability to seize happiness beaten out of us. We feel the need to be self-deniers, to SAVE forever for a retirement that may not come or a dream house that will have an empty room because we can’t afford furniture after making the mortgage payments.
If you read a lot about money on the internet, stop once in a while. Buy a latte. Eat lunch in the park. Live your life a bit. I know you need to scrimp and save and deny, deny, deny, but the moments when you can grab your happiness and wring it dry are few and far between. Your money problems will be there tomorrow. Today, be irie.