by Dave Markwell

My son is embarking on a weekend long sailboat race with my old neighbor, Nick. He’s excited. Nick’s excited. And I’m excited. As a legitimate crew member, my son is learning about team work and contribution and sailing and fun. I could not be more pleased about this.

Nick is the hinge pin in this operation. He is a forty year old fourteen year old. He is a fun-loving, kind and generous adventurer. When I lived next door, I would often find Nick tinkering with some interesting contraption in his garage. He has a mad scientist mentality, always on the lookout for a good time. He carries a rare and beautiful enthusiasm for living life with him everywhere he travels. And he travels many places. His unconventional, yet wonderful zest for life is infectious. And I am happy that my son is getting some exposure to this contagion. It’s a good bug to catch.

My boy is running for sophomore class president and while discussing his speech I was proud to hear that his “platform” foundation involves creating more vibrant high school experiences for students. Participation in clubs and sports and anything of interest shapes these experiences. My son understands the value of “doing stuff”. And this is a good thing to understand.

“Participation” is the key to a good life. Actively exploring the big, bright world IS living. With eyes open and feet moving, we journey through our years. The wider the eyes and the more deliberate the foot falls, the richer the life. This is an important, yet sometimes difficult thing to remember. Our days are often filled with responsibilities and obligations which limit our capacity for exploration. Making time to enjoy and explore deserves a higher spot on the shelf and servses to reframe how we see the world and our lives. We see more. We see possibility and the truth that the world is a pretty cool place to be.

So, as my son sets sail on his adventure, I am happy to know that he will write another entry into his log book of fun stuff. With salt water and wind and friends, he will know that the world is a good place. He will carry this knowledge back to school on Monday and he will be changed in small or big ways. He will change the world with the ways that he has been changed by his fantastic experiences. A marvelous ripple effect is taking shape.

The “Nicks” of the world are necessary. They are the mystical gypsies with smiling eyes and awesome bad ideas. They make taking the risks worth it. We need our Nicks to remind us that age is but a number and we still possess the joy of children. We can laugh and try and fall and still laugh. Life is a serious business that should not be taken too seriously. We need our Nicks to remind us that world is worth exploring, being a good dude matters, and a windy day on the water with friends is valuable and necessary. We need our Nicks to shine the light of their gloriously unkempt spirits on our paths…and I’m glad my son and I have ours…he shines a bright light…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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