My back hurts pretty often these days. Actually, since I turned 65, many things do. I'm still active—I ride my bike 20 miles in one shot—but I know that someday things will start coming loose and falling off. (Of the bike, and also me.)

So it was with some trepidation last winter that I joined the hordes of kids sledding down the steep hill in my neighborhood. I hadn't been on a sled in 25 years. But the sledders—toddlers to teenagers—seemed hysterically happy. I remembered that sled-happiness. I wanted it again. The problem was, I had no sled. But I did have the lid of a metal hamper. I went home for it, then hurried back.

I guess I have mild body dysmorphia: When I tried to sit on the lid, I found it was too small for my butt. I was too excited to care, though. "If I fall off," I thought, "I'll be falling into fresh snow, unlikely to break my neck. Works for me!"

I positioned myself at the hill's peak. "Need a shove?" someone asked. "I do!" I said, and I was off. Off the lid, that is—but not before I'd enjoyed 20 feet of bliss. I was so happy with myself, the kids, the world.

It was good to remember that doing something inadvisable—flying down a hill, eating French fries five nights in a row, strolling alone through the park on a balmy summer night—keeps my outlook fresh, as if I were seeing through the eyes of a child.


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