What Am I Doing Here? Having Fun and Not Reading Minds

02 Jan 2013
Sefrou, Morocco

It’s funny, as you get older and time passes, you notice things that would have escaped you before. Yesterday, I watched a group of very full of themselves teenage boys walking down the street with two Moroccan girls both obviously enjoying the attention of the guys. Suddenly, one of the boys (they were all about 13 or 14 I think) ran and leap-frogged over a bench. That wasn’t the part that was funny though.

The part that was funny was the look on his face as he looked back at the girls and his friends. He was looking for approval – I could see it on his face. His first look was sort of ‘Look what I did! Isn’t that cool? Aren’t I cool?’ About what you’d expect from a kid that age.

Not Reading Minds and Having FunThe reaction was great though. The boys all looked like they wanted to cheer him on or try it themselves but then, every one of them looked at the girls to see what they’re reaction was. The girls pretended to have not seen it at all for some reason and so, that’s what all the guys did too. And then, the leap-frogger got a blank look on his face and he pretended it never happened too. And I’m guessing that was the end of leap-frogging for those particular boys.

Man. It was totally sad. It bummed me out for a little while. Childhood ended right there. Doing things spontaneously, having fun, not being constrained by what others think.

I was that 14 year old kid once and then (to some extent albeit less than some others I know) I stopped having fun and became controlled by what I thought that others might be thinking about what had just been fun for me.  Let me emphasize that –

I stopped having fun and became controlled by what I thought that others might be thinking about what had just been fun for me!

How stupid is that? I’m not a mind reader. I had no idea what they were thinking just like that boy didn’t know what his friends were thinking and his friends didn’t know what those girls were thinking. The girls might have been thinking “That looks so fun. I love that guy because he is having so much fun!” Or they might have been thinking about exams or dresses or exercise.  The thing is nobody read their minds.

Those guys, they thought the girls might be thinking “That guy is a child.”  Or a clown, or a little kid, or foolish, or something negative.  Then that kid thought “My friends think I’m not cool for doing that” or something similar.  And the end result – THE FUN STOPPED!

All because of people pretending to be mind readers.  I repeat. I’ve been that kid and guess what – 27 years later, I realize that it’s actually more fun to leap-frog like a madman, to dance like a maniac, or to do other things that are fun for me and if someone thinks I’m an idiot, a fool, a child, a bad person, or whatever they might want to think – THAT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS! 

In a big way, it’s that which has kept me from making more videos, taking more great travel photos or great street photography, and especially here in rural Morocco where everyone is very up in everyone else’s business – it’s even kept me from wandering around, making friends, or having fun. I’m not Moroccan, but my wife and her family are and I can tell you that nobody worries about what other people think more than they do…It’s a culture that is so rooted in and buried in what they call hshuma that it’s very easy to stop living life the way you want to.

We bought a great child backpack for our daughter, but my wife still ties the baby on her back because as she says “People look at me like I’m from another planet when I wear that” – never mind that it’s more comfortable for both of them, more fun, and more practical (because it also has pockets for diapers, milk, and things). So the backpack sits there until I use it and then we argue over why I don’t want to use the baby carriage instead. It’s all so incredibly silly because it’s all based on pretending to be mind readers and thinking that what other people think is your business.

It’s not. What you think is none of my business and if I could read minds it would be criminal to do so. It’s not my business. My business is having fun and enjoying life. My business is having fun with my daughter and teaching her how to enjoy life. My business is getting my family out of Morocco so my wife can stop being a mind reader (because I’m sure she can’t read American minds based on my own American mind.)

My business is to have fun. And that’s what I’m doing. I think I’m going to leapfrog something tomorrow when I’m out walking with my wife. I can’t wait to hear her scold me for it. :)

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook