I don’t know for sure if I’m in the midst of a second childhood. Lots of folks talk about that phenomenon, when a “mature” fellow (notice they never talk about a second childhood for women!) buys a new sports car, starts wearing jazzy clothes with lots of gold, and even – in severe cases – trades his wife in for a younger, newer model. That’s apparently a second childhood, but if you think about it, the terminology is all wrong. How many children do you know drive sports cars or wear lots of jewelry – or even go through girlfriends? No – what we really are talking about is a second teenage years, or even better, a second twenty-something, when a young adult has money, and independence and the ability to pick up girls.
Just for the record – this is not happening to me. I’m very satisfied with both the model of my car and my wife, and it’s way too much work to start dressing up in fancy clothes, when a nice t-shirt and jogging pants will do the trick.
What I am talking about is a true, genuine, well-managed second childhood. You see, in our travels and moves while Dad was in the Air Force, with seven children, you can imagine the sheer tonnage of stuff that needed to be moved. That meant that usually, somehow, that a number of things that were our possessions, especially toys would not make the trip. Often they were toys that we played with for a time, at a certain age, and then they seemed to not have the luster and attraction, and ended up in a box under the bed. The box then made the sad trip from the bed to the pile of non-movables. Now, I must assert that I don’t ever remember being on the committee that went through that selection and decommissioning process! Still, years later, as the folks settled into their last home, which had an attic and lots of other storage, when we would visit, I would find a box or two with my name on it, that contained my earthly possessions that were kept while I went through my college and seminary years and then to marriage and kids. However, what I did not find were some of my more prized possessions that, if they had been kept, would today be worth a significant amount of money.
My Man from UNCLE Napoleon Solo toy gun with six or seven different attachments – all gone. Our set of little white building blocks with which we made magnificent structures and played wonderful adventures – all gone. My Captain Crunch Super Spy Belt, that I saved up for with about a thousand box tops – gone. Perhaps the most distressing, however, was that knowing how captivated I was with outer space, and the NASA trips, I was given for Christmas and birthdays for a few years pieces of my Matt Mason figurines, jet packs, space sleds, and especially my three-foot tall Matt Mason Space Station. It was legendary. Apparently, however, it didn’t make the cut.
Perhaps the saddest part of the frequent moves in the military is that indeed, you don’t have the luxury of, when something has gone past its regular use, putting that thing up in an attic, or down in a basement to be found in later years. Now, it’s not that I don’t have a lot of things from my childhood – it’s just I don’t have them all, and they weren’t broken or ruined. They just never made the trip... like my comic issue #1 of the Fantastic Four. Sure, it was well read, but – all gone.
So, back to my second childhood. As it happens, I have a great family. I also have practically nothing that I need, that I haven’t bought when I needed it. You know, briefcases, pens, computers, phones, doodads and gewgaws of all sorts have been easily secured when I felt like it. It happens, then, when things like Christmas or birthdays or Father’s Day – the big three giving events for men – come, and I am asked what I want, where’s my list, what would I like to receive, I usually have said, “Nothing – I don’t need anything.” This is always met with rolling eyes and the rejection of that statement. Not allowed. I have to want something.
The searching for something has ended up with things like my poured aluminum cast of a fire ants underground nest – which is pretty cool, actually, or like I have mentioned before, fossils or rocks or antiques. It’s however gotten to be a bit harder to come up with something.
Somehow, I began to think about things of my past that were no longer with me – those toys and things that didn’t make the trip – and I mentioned how cool it would be to have those again. Hence, the second childhood. As I said, I have a great family, who indulge me wonderfully, and so for one birthday, I actually received a Matt Mason Space Station, that now sits proudly in my office. I’ve gotten some other things too, like those small white building blocks, and a GI Joe action figure – and then there are the Legos.
Of course, I don’t remember Legos being around when I was little, but I do remember the hours I spent building things like the Pirate Island for Aaron to play with when he was little. One of the coolest things that Lego has done is to develop a Creator series, which is really Legos for adults – probably adult boys. My holiday gifts have then included the four foot tall Saturn V rocket, the Apollo LEM, the International Space Station, and the US Capitol. One of these things is not like the other, but they were all very cool and fun to build, and are really fun to display, again, in my office.
One thing that happens, however, when you are avid in building all sorts of Lego things, is that, while Lego has dozens of other kits and sets that are challenging to build, pretty soon, I ran out of the ones that interest me. Honestly, I have no desire to put together a Lego model of Hogwarts School. Not in my genre.
Well, the Lego catalog came this week, just in time for Christmas dreaming and shopping. I thought I would look through it, mostly to see what I had already built. Inside the catalog, there was an insert that had been glued in, as a special event. Imagine my shock, awe and amazement when I opened the insert and saw nothing less that the Roman Colosseum in all its glory! Recall that I was a Latin major in college, and have always been fascinated by Roman things.
This is a beauty – it’s huge, first of all – one could say it’s colossal… lots of detail, and the room to make it so. It is also advertised as being the largest Lego model ever developed, with somewhere over 9,000 little pieces to be put together, just like the Romans did when they built the original. It really looks spectacular from the catalog.
Unfortunately, it is also spectacular in terms of money outlay for the thing. Seriously, it costs over $500. For that kind of money, you could almost buy a Napoleon Solo gun. It’s pretty ridiculous, and when I match it up with other things I have purchased this past year for $500, there is not much in that category, outside of putting in a new digital sprinkler system control panel, or buying a new set of tires, both of which are incredibly exciting…
So, I have stated unwaveringly to my family that the Colosseum is just way too expensive, which it is, and that I hoped they wouldn’t spend that kind of money on that. I really do hope they don’t, but part of the problem about making a big deal about something without regard for who is hearing it, is that sometimes, that’s all they hear, and not the “oh – don’t buy that – it costs way too much.”
Now, of course, if some well-meaning stranger decided to buy one and send it to me for a gift, I wouldn’t turn it down…
Many of the desires of our hearts go unmet. We often try to fill those holes with things that are far less suitable or wonderful. The desires we carry are not able to be listed in a catalog, or put together in 9,000 easy steps. What enlivens us, captivates us, thrills us are not things, but deeper items, like love, and true respect, and peace, and safety and joy. And God. When we are serious about pursuing the true desires that fill our lives, we quickly let go of stuff and even Colosseums and begin to think about, for instance, what it would truly feel like to enter into God’s presence, to know the peace that passes understanding itself.
An intentional life is a life that moves us past trinkets to truly important matters, and abundant living that reaches beyond owning stuff. What does it profit someone, to gain the whole world, but to lose one’s soul? I almost wish I had thought that saying up.
So – enjoy Christmas, and enjoy your gifts – truly do. Also, enjoy the journey, the effort and the incredible satisfaction of seeking, and even finding your heart’s desire. It may even surprise you when you finally put it all together.
Word for the day: dactylodeiktous. This is a good one. Pronounced dak-till-oh DIKE-tuss. We probably recognize the first part of the word as either Latin or Greek, dactylus or daktylos, meaning “finger.” By the way, you may not be aware that there are over 40 names for the four different fingers on our hand, not to mention the thumbs.
Anyway, the last part of the word is from the Greek, deiktikos, which means “to show.” Sounds funny that the word, put together means to show someone your finger, and you would be right. The word actually means the action of pointing at someone with your finger – hopefully your pointing finger, and not one of those other ones. When I shake my finger at my cat, I am busying dactylodeiktizing, which seems like a lot more work to say that simply, “shake my finger at.” Either way, when you are getting dactylodeiked, or whatever that verb might be, you know it’s not a good thing…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.