I have always loved toys.  I had some special favorites as a child; toy soldiers, GI Joe.  Any guy in my age bracket may also remember Johnny West and the affiliated western ‘action figures.’  There were even knights and vikings, and the wonderful Fort Apache playset!  God bless Marx Toys! (For a little idea of the wonder of Marx Toys, go to the Marx Museum website! https://www.marxtoymuseum.com/western.htm)  All of these only reinforced my love of history.

The Johnny West line

The Johnny West line

I was one of those nerdy kids who knew lots about Native Americans, medieval weaponry, types of artillery and all the rest.  Contrary to what many believe, none of it resulted in my developing any violent habits, though it did cause me to have an interest in firearms that continues to this day. (Speaking of toys, here’s one of the finest .22 rifles ever made:  https://cz-usa.com/products/view/cz-452-lux/.)

But many men and women, like me, continue to love toys for our entire lives.  Sure, the toys may change into four-wheelers or archery equipment, sports paraphernalia or video games.  But toys they remain.  And please understand, I don’t use the term in a demeaning or pejorative sense.  Toys can be very good!

Why should we buy toys for those we love?  Because our toys represent our playful spirit, our desire to explore, to learn, to do.  Sure, some toys may leave us sitting on the couch trying to level up in alien combat.  But frequently, toys are sign of an active imagination, an inquisitive mind and a seeking, searching soul.

This Christmas my dear wife bought me my first ever metal detector.  (She’s absolutely the best, and very indulgent of my endless sense of exploration.)  I just took it out for a spin.  I’ve never had one, so this was a real thrill.  One of my favorite things has always been wandering through the woods, exploring trails, looking, ever looking for hidden things.

I habitually search for arrowheads or artifacts of someone else who may have passed the same way in ages past.  Without sounding too proud, I’ve gotten pretty good at finding things in the dirt!  Now, I’ll be scanning for any cast-away coins, tools, even nails that others may have inadvertently discarded.

The place we live is good for this sort of thing.  A few weeks ago my wife and I found a cache of glass Clorox bottles (not produced since the 1960’s) under a thicket of Mountain Laurel.  I’ll be headed back with the metal detector.

In a bit of serendipity, she also bought a brush scythe for me.  In SC, the land of endless briers, it comes in mighty handy.  So, with knife on belt, metal detector in one hand and small scythe in the other, I can blaze a whole bunch of trails.  Maybe I need to start packing a .22, since small game season is still with us until March!  That’s a perfect afternoon!  Of course, eventually I’ll need a mule to carry my stuff, and before I know it I’ll be a grizzled mountain man, pots banging and mule braying through the woods.  OK, at that point I may need a little help.

Still, I say all of this to remind men (and women) to play.  Play of the right kind keeps our bodies healthy and our minds sharp.  It keeps us interested and excited about new things.  And in a world that spends all too much time sedentary and bored, play just may be the thing that helps us to have long, productive lives.

Edwin

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