Roberts: Escaping chronic 'adultitis'

Roberts: Escaping chronic 'adultitis'

July 17th, 2012 by Dalton Roberts in Life Entertainment

Dalton Roberts

Dalton Roberts

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

James Rouse came here to help us in the renaissance of Chattanooga and became "Mr. Creativity" to me. I loved to hear him philosophize.

He writes about a condition he calls "chronic adultitis." It's caused from being too adult, being too serious and not playing enough.

Adultitis has never been able to get a long-term hold on me -- never long enough to be described as "chronic." I am simply too frisky for it to chase me down and get a grip on me.

My nephew Mickey is mentally limited, but he has never had a moment of adultitis. We have great fun.

One game Mickey and I play is to record a program we call "Face This Big Awful Stinking Mess," a take-off on "Face the Press." I interview him on some hot topic of the day, and he never fails to crack me up. At various times he has been Senator Maxwell, Dr. Mickey Grabbocinski of Watering Trough University and similar personas. The weeks we record "Face This Big Awful Stinking Mess," this hour is usually the most fun time of the week.

Some people get so serious about life that they actually become grim. When you become grim, everything is going to be grim because grimness is an attitude -- a consciousness that permeates your life.

In my book "Things That Really Matter," I wrote a chapter titled "Healing Drabness." I like this passage:

"Freud talked about 'free-floating anxiety,' and I have experienced it. You know what he meant -- that feeling that all is not well. Today I became aware that one can have "free-floating drabness" or "free-floating adultitis" from being too serious.

One night I awoke around 2 in the morning and asked myself, "What do I want to do now that I see I cannot sleep." I had seen some children in swings down at the Tennessee Riverpark a few days earlier. So I decided I wanted to swing. I rolled out of bed, drove down to the Riverpark and enjoyed a half-hour of swinging. It oxygenated my lungs, but the best thing it did was to free my spirit from adultitis. I went back home and slept like a baby.

Things like this help me understand why Jesus said, "Unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." In other words, you wouldn't know bliss if it chased you down and playfully wrestled with you in the dewed grass or made mud pies with you.

Don't be afraid to "become like a little child." If someone asks you why you are playing games and acting so childlike, tell them you are trying to get into the kingdom of heaven in this life.

If becoming like a child is your ticket to heaven, it must surely mean there is a lot of playing in heaven. My friend Redbird Clingan wrote a song titled "Heaven's Playground" in which a terminally ill child asks her Daddy, "Will there be a playground in heaven, can I hopscotch the stars, can I slide down a rainbow, landing on Mars, can I swing on the pearly gates ..."

I think in that Land of Infinite Possibilities, we will be able to completely escape adultitis.

Email Dalton Roberts at