Here’s a personal question: Has anyone ever told you that it’s good when you’re silly? If YES, you’re likely surrounded by people who understand the original meanings of this term in Old English, Norse and German: blessed, happy, prosperous, blissful, of good mood or kindhearted. In those earlier versions of personified hilarity (joyfulness), being silly was a mark of good character. A silly person was fortunate.
If NO, the people around you are trapped in negativity about silliness, perhaps thinking of you as pitiable, weak, lacking in reason or just plain foolish. Perhaps that’s too often true for those of us who are older.
I’ve known a lot of older folks through the many decades of my life, and have seen the tension that exists when silly seniors can’t quite find the opportunity to let out their blessed happiness or humor. Other elderly people are shamed or shushed into keeping their merry selves bottled up. In both cases, the assumption (or prejudice?) seems to be that, at our age, being silly—funny, playful—is not a polite or seemly way to conduct ourselves in the presence of others. We’re thought to be wise, so we should be serious. We’re judged to be infirmed, so we should be grave. Some folks fear us because of our age. So we should be stern. Those who aren’t old—or not silly themselves—think that humorless living is what old age is all about.
Because joy (good humor, silliness) integrates your whole brain, it’s good for you physically and emotionally. Probably spiritually, too! Because we all live in a testy, angry world of anxiety and fear, the silliness of seniors might just turn out to be a redemptive gift of God to the whole culture.
So be silly! I’ll be right there with you….!