When I was growing up, my family had a trampoline — the kind no one will sell to families anymore due to the risk of a lawsuit. It was twice as springy as the average backyard trampoline, with no net and very few rules. Double bouncing, gymnastics, water balloon fights and sleepovers were all parent-approved. It was the best place to be.
Even at the young age of 10, I was risk averse. But I did have the confidence to poorly execute various flips and handsprings on that trampoline every summer. I stopped when the frame finally rusted out and the mat started to fray.
I recently had a chance to get back on a real trampoline (“real” meaning I had to sign my life away before jumping). A gym has opened near our house; it has several thousand square feet of trampolines and foam pits and trapezes. From my first bounce, I felt like a kid again. I never thought I’d regain the childlike confidence to do another flip, but I did. I’m not 10 anymore, and bouncing was harder on my neck than I remember, but it was worth it. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.
That hour in the trampoline park was a valuable reminder for me of the difference between contentment and fun. Fun can sometimes fall by the wayside in everyday life. I genuinely enjoy the feeling of finishing a project in our home or savoring a nice glass of cabernet, but those are distinct from what I felt on that trampoline.
It also reminded me of how grateful I am to live in an age where opportunities to have fun are just part of everyday life. The leisure time and opportunity to pursue hobbies purely for joy is a recent development, not unlike the trampoline, and it comes to us courtesy of liberty. Life in the 21st century affords more choices than ever before, including how we spend our time.
Until everyone has as many choices and opportunities as we do, we need to keep advocating for liberty and the perks that come with it. But in the meantime, I think we owe it to ourselves, and to the people who brought us to this point in human development, to let out our inner child every once in a while. This is a luxury we only have because of freedom, and we ought to relish it.