Guidance For My Near Future
A Day in the Life of Old Age

A TGB READER STORY: Dancing with the Monkey

By Dave Clark who blogs at Just a Geezer

I’ve seen actors on the screen,
clowns at the circus
dancers at the ballet,
singers at the opera,
musicians at the concert.

But I have never seen anything to compare,
to my 2 year old grandson,
when he first saw a mechanical monkey,
playing a tune and smashing cymbals together.

The boy watches,
stomps his right foot, then his left,
leans to one side, then the other.
He giggles and laughs,
but best of all he smiles---no beams.

A grin that spans his whole face.
is worn like a badge
and shows he is in a perfect place,
loving every moment.
And as he sways,
he hasn’t the faintest idea what worry is.

My God,
I know that expression,
it’s pure joy,
something I have pursued my whole life,
but never found.

As he wobbles, claps, and bounces
he is as close to heaven on earth
as any human can be.
Maybe I too felt like him early in life,
but if I did, I lost it.
and never found it again.

If I could give him a gift,
It would not be money,
It would not be power.
It would be to help him keep that delight,
to stay so happy that others
feel gladdened by his very presence.

I don’t know how to do it,
I don’t where to find it,
I don’t even know what I’m looking for,
but I will do everything I can
to keep him glowing with happiness
the way he does
when he dances with the monkey.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Breathtaking! Pure joy... his, yours, mine, and anyone reading your post. Thank you. Evidently, whatever you are and aren't doing feeds his delight.

Thank you, dear man, for sharing your own endearing , personal narrative of "Ode To Joy"!!  Your words put a bright light on so many tender memories with my own family. 

In response to your words..."Maybe I too felt like him early in life, but if I did, I lost it.and never found it again."

I believe YOU have found IT in this wee man that charms you as only a child can...Giving and receiving are one connected event in my experience, Dick.  We cannot give away what we do not hold within us is what I read *somewhere* and now at this end of my journey I can't remember the source.  That cave of wonders I refer to as "random access memory" is truly over crowded.  
Thank you for changing this day for me here in weary, cranky Portland. OR   

Heart expands when watching a toddler. Thank you for this lovely wonderful image/poem!

A wonderful reminder to find simple joy and pleasures and delight in them!
Thank you!

Beautifully told! Pure joy is hard to find, but in the eyes of a 2-year-old - it is easy!

Thanks Geezer - took me back to my oldest daughter's face as she took her first 10 steps across the kitchen floor.

Love love love this! I have seen the same in my four grandsons but alas, they have grown beyond those days of innocence and purest delight. Thank you for sharing.

Your beautiful words! They took me back to seeing my first tall bicycle!

Dave, I learned a stanza at school about giving to others that fits here:

"What we keep, we lose,
Only what we give remains our own."

You now have within you your baby's grin. It's really yours too, you have it, you haven't lost it! And in a way, it's become ours, when we read your words.

Now, In me the grin has become my tears.. happy tears!

Thank you Dave!

OOOPS !! An apology...

So sorry, Dave, for renaming you "Dick". No excuses, just the "RAM" at full tilt this morning.
(My own son is a "Dave" by the way.) Must have been the Dick Clark memories so popular on the radio in the 50s when I was a teenager. He was also referred to at the time as "The World's Oldest Teenager". Maybe that's me this easily distracted. Sigh!!


Count your blessings, you fortunate man............

Just glorious!

Such a touching visual you've created for your readers, Dave. The feelings evoked by very young children, who are still at that time of their lives when every day is a new discovery or accomplishment, and who, being very new to the world yet, still have the ability to love and trust unconditionally, are some of the most moving and powerful. I wish we could all hold onto those forever.

Charlene, I think perhaps what you're remembering has to do with what's known as The Law of Reciprocity. Years ago I served on a committee with a man who frequently reminded us that "people can't give what they don't have." He was the head of a local state residential mental health facility which has now been closed for many years. The first time I heard him say this I was rather gobsmacked by its profound simplicity and truth. It has stuck with me ever since.

Oh, wonderful.

Thank you, Cathy J. You are likely right, although I don't remember the exact phrase.

Yet like you, I think simplicity is always a better choice. I was a school nurse for many years and gave classes in nutrition as a volunteer for young breastfeeding mothers for the county nurse. The phrase that usually stuck with them about their own needs for rest and good diet was "You can't pour anything out of an empty pitcher!". Old maxims and sayings hang around in our memory simply because they reflect what is true, it seems to me.

Oh, how touching — would that we could keep dancing with the monkey throughout our lives.

You recognised the pure delight in that baby. It's still in you, somewhere hidden by the years, but still in there. Look for it.


When he was very young, he waved his arms, snapped his massive jaws, and tromped around the house so that the dishes trembled in the china cabinet. “Oh, for goodness’ sake,” his mother said. “You are not a dinosaur! You are a human being!” Since he was not a dinosaur, he thought for a time that he might be a pirate. “Seriously,” his father said to him after school one day, “what do you want to be?” A fireman, maybe. Or a policeman. Or a soldier. Some kind of hero.

But in high school they gave him tests and told him he was good with numbers. Perhaps he’d like to be a math teacher? That was respectable. Or a tax accountant? He could make a lot of money doing that. It seemed a good idea to make money, what with falling in love and thinking about raising a family. So he became a tax accountant, even though he sometimes regretted it, because it made him feel, well, small. And he felt even smaller when he was no longer a tax accountant, but a retired tax accountant. Still worse: a retired tax accountant who forgot things. He forgot to take the garbage to the curb, to take his pill, to turn his hearing aid on. Every day it seemed he forgot more things, important things, like where his children lived and which of them were married or divorced.

Then one day, when he was out for a walk by the lake, he forgot what his mother had told him. He forgot that he was not a dinosaur. He stood blinking his dinosaur eyes in the bright sunlight, feeling its familiar warmth on his dinosaur skin, watching dragonflies flitting among the horsetails at the water’s edge.

My first experience of pure joy was the day I could swim by myself. My Father had been supporting me under my tummy...encouraging me..."you can do it Carole". Suddenly I realized he had let go and was standing several feet away. Looking back, I think he was as joyful as I was!
Thank you for giving me this memory. I love your story. And I still love to swim.

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