Waging a War on Maturation

"The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball."  –Doug Larson

Maturity and responsibility—as we age, it becomes increasingly difficult to defy the societal expectations that attend these brave new realities of adulthood. The conditions of modern life seem to funnel us, inevitably, away from the frivolous attitudes of youth and into a more staid, restrained existence. More work, less play; more saving, less spending; more careful planning for the future, less spontaneous seizure of the moment. How many people get tattoos after age 25? When’s the last time you called in sick to go sledding? The days of unplanned, whirlwind road-trips to distant ski hills—once an important part of every ski season—seem to vanish like so many melting snowflakes.

But they don’t have to. You can indulge those inner impulses while still upholding the more serious obligations of your external adult. It just takes a slight mental shift, a recollection of that happy-go-lucky adolescent you used to be, unencumbered by society’s artificially imposed restrictions. And recollect you must—as E.E. Cummings put it, "To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."

Winter makes it easier to wage war on maturation. The snow and cold provide a sort of behavioral buffer, a thick layer of insulation around our quirky antics. Half-crazed with cabin fever themselves, people are more forgiving, more willing to accommodate a little oddness in their fellow citizens. “He’s just a bit stir-crazy,” your neighbors say, as you strap on skis and careen down your roof, landing in a massive snow pile you erected at midnight the night before.

Freedom grows with the passing of every frigid winter week. By mid-March, you can get away with just about anything—a case of cabin fever is explanation enough for why you’re seen flying around the neighborhood on an inner tube pulled behind your buddy’s truck. And when you greet your friends in the morning with a rugby tackle into a snowdrift, you can shrug it off with a simple, casual explanation: “I’ve been cooped up awhile, sorry guys!”

Practical jokes are also great outlets, and once you learn to re-open your adolescent eyes, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that abound. Here’s a dandy: Tell a gullible neighbor that due to an amazing and little-known law of physics, it’s possible to stack snow on the side of the house with a magnet. He will of course be skeptical, so you’ll demonstrate. Raise a shovel-full high on your garage wall, then drop the magnet. Ask him to retrieve it for you, and when he bends down to pick it up, dump the snow on his head. (This trick works best when other neighbors are watching.)

So be a juvenile bohemian this winter, use this opportunity to find that long-lost Dennis the Menace you once were—and deep-down inside, still are. After all, your zany winter exploits will eventually be forgiven and forgotten—even that snowball that hit your spouse square on the back of the head.