Silliness and Joy

This week I learned that Gina, a friend from college, passed away from cancer.

I had lost touch with Gina over the years, but found her again recently through Facebook and through the wonderful book she’d written about poetry and walking meditation, Camino Davina. It was obvious she was still living a vibrantly joyful life.

So I was thinking about the summer I got to know her and the lessons I learned that year, and how timely it is for me to think about those lessons.

Before the summer of 1984, I was mainly friends with Gina’s sister Jill, who was the same year as me at Biola, but I got to know Gina in her own right that summer.

It was the summer before my senior year, and like every summer when I was at Biola, I worked full-time in the computer services department as a programmer for the university. The summer before, I hadn’t had many friends around to eat lunches with, but *this* summer, my sister Becky was also working at Biola (She was already married by then and had just graduated from Biola, so it was good to get to see her.) and so were Jill and Gina. The four of us started having lunch together five days a week.

I was twenty years old, freshly out of my teens and thinking about putting away childish things and embracing the childlike.

And — we ended up forming a club that celebrated being silly. (Well, I just found a history of the club that I wrote in 1985, and Jill and I had already formed the club. But we added in Becky and Gina, and the club took off that summer.) We took club names of Jolly Jill, Jovial Gina, Batty Becky, and Silly Sondy.

The club was about embracing Silliness and our theme was Joy. Our standard greeting/farewell was “Joy to you!”

We felt sorry for August, because it didn’t have any holidays. So we invented 31 silly holidays for August, beginning with August Sillies’ Day on August 1st, and we found silly ways to celebrate them all. I remember that McIntosh computers were new at Biola, and I made an August Holidays calendar using its fancy fonts. [Huzzah! I just found the calendar filed away!]

The four of us took a trip to Disneyland in there (probably on Disney Day). We got pictures with characters. We screamed on the rides. Whenever we heard music coming from Snow White’s Wishing Well, we ran over and sang along in Snow White voices.

But it was really fun exploring the connection between Silliness and Joy. And Childlikeness. That was when we realized that you never *lose* your previous ages. If that were true, then each year you’d only be One. No, I still am seven years old, and I am still twenty years old — a lot more ages, too, though!

I also developed my Sparkle Theory. Every human desperately needs Sparkles. If they aren’t obvious in your life, you need to go look for them.

Tied with that, the most obvious kind of sparkles to a twenty-year-old girl are romantic ones. (Okay, that’s true to a fifty-four-year-old woman, too.) If you don’t have romance in your life, it’s tempting to try to grab romance for the sake of romance. I’d find myself almost manufacturing crushes on guys out of nothing — just to find some sparkles. That’s analogous to wanting to go out with *anyone* on, for the sake of going out.

But I found then — that finding Sparkles and noticing Joy is a really good antidote to that. If there are Sparkles and lots of Joy in your life, you don’t need to manufacture romance. And we had a gloriously joyful summer.

And it’s also true that living a Joyful life is a really good foundation for falling in love. My husband-to-be and I started dating not long after that summer was over — and for me it was from a place of Joy.

And what do you know? I’m in a similar place right now. With no sparkles of romance in my life, I’m sometimes tempted to try to manufacture them.

What’s more, being on the Newbery Committee brought with it a boatload of Sparkles, but after June, I’m going to need to work a little harder to make sure I notice them.

So – I’m hereby making a resolution! I hereby declare freshly embracing Silliness, Joy, and Childlikeness.

So watch out! I am going to be looking for ways to be silly…

And I’m going to start by typing out the Official History of the S.I.K. Club as written July 7, 1985. After discovering it in my files tonight, I had so much fun reading it, I’m going to repeat it here.

Will my friends forgive me for letting out the secret? Well, people still have to be interested enough to read this far.

It was contained in a letter to the other S.I.K.s as we were adding new members.

… With this in mind, I would like to present The History of the S.I.K. Club, leading up to the present. I think we will all do well to rethink the noble purposes behind our joyous organization. And so…


Once upon a time, on Valentine’s Day a year ago (to be precise), in the far-off land of Biola University, two solitary maidens, who weren’t really solitary because they were together, were bemoaning the hard-heartedness and general lack of Handsome Princes in those parts, whose presence, when found, is known to cast a magic glow upon all of life.

“But why,” declared the Sillier maiden, “should this magic glow be confined only to those with handsome princes? ‘Tis no wonder the rest of us are bored and weary with homework and exams alone to occupy us.”

And so the Sparkle Theory was born. It runs as follows: Every human being desperately needs Sparkles. Therefore we must find and gather the Sparkles strewn all around us, free for the taking. We Females are prone to focus on Male Sparkles, because they are so bright, and thus the most obvious. But we must never confine ourselves to these sparkles alone, or we will be poor indeed, for there are squillions more to find. And woe to the hoarder of a Male Sparker when his sparkle flickers out!

So, defying that dread unwritten decree that college students should keep their noses to the limestone, I mean, grindstone, the two maidens went on their merry way to La Mirada Regional Park in search of sparkles. And sparkles they found in abundance! The Jollier Maiden kept provoking peals of laughter and together they had a truly joyous time.

And that, my friends, was the start of the S,I.K Club. For, to find the sparkles, we (For it was in truth myself and Jolly Jill Renee.) behaved so childishly we thought that any grown-up watching us would say, “What Silly, Immature Kids!” and look down their noses at us. We decided to wear the title with pride. From henceforth, we were Silly Sondy Sue and Jolly Jill Renee, S.I.K.s. And the theme we chose was high and lofty: Joy.

As the year went on, Jill and I continued to behave Jollily and Sillily. When summer came, we began to eat lunch together, and were soon joined by our respective sisters. After a little getting to know one another, how Silliness and Sparkles abounded! After a very Merry Unbirthday Party for all, [in between Happy Birthday Parties (complete with balloons), for Jill and me], we declared Gina and Becky, Batty and Jovial, disrespectively. And the S.I.K. Club, 4 members strong, became official.

How can we four begin to express to our new members the Silliness and Delight of that summer? There was a Six-Months-After-Christmas Party at our Official Bench. (Upon this bench in front of the SUB we ate our lunches. When a matter came up that required a vote, we indicated our vote by standing on the bench and saying “Super-cali-fragi-listic-expial-i-docious!”) There were Dr. Seuss songs. There were lavish plans of silliness. There was an S.I.K. expedition to see Jungle Book (with 11-year-old Linda Mammano, who thought us very childish indeed).

But best of all were the August Holidays. It occurred to my Batty sister that poor August has gone literally hundreds of years without a single holiday! So we decided to make up for all that neglect. We invented and celebrated a new holiday for every single day of August!

For example, on Hog’s Day, Becky and I went to Farrell’s and had Ham-It-Up Burgers (Hamburgers with Bacon and Ham), followed by a Pig’s Trough. On Footloose-and-Fancy-Free Day (on which we also celebrated Fairy Tale Day), the S.I.K.s went to Disneyland and had a joyous time and sang with Snow White at her Wishing Well. To end the month, on Narnian Independence Day, we went to the Hollywood Bowl and saw the fireworks spectacular in honor of the defeat of the White Witch.

Our happy summer over, we were amazed and overjoyed to discover that we weren’t, after all, the only Sillies on campus. Although the majority still looked down their noses, we found that Silliness and Joy are contagious. By the end of the year we were joined by Sparkling Stephanie, noted paper airline pilot and manufacturer; Singing Cindy, known for appearing on roofs at the oddest times; and Jocular Joy, a famous philosopher of the cause of Silliness.

But where do we go from here? The S.I.K. Club has been in existence for well over a year now. We had a wonderful time when Jocular joined Sparkling, Jolly, and me to celebrate our birthdays. The Six-Months-After-Christmas Party could not have been better!

But alas! We’re going our separate ways. . . . It’s harder to get us together. . . . I want to apologize to all the other S.I.K.s for last year – when homework, busy-ness and exhaustion sapped all my joy – and also for perhaps a tiny bit too much absorption in my own Handsome Prince to the exclusion of other sparkles.

Now. . . I want to take up the search again! Let’s look for Sparkles! Let’s find Joys along the way! And let’s never stop giving people a reason to accuse us of being Silly, Immature Kids!

[Excursus: Have you ever noticed how the most wonderful people are the childlike adults and the mature children? But what could be worse than a childish child or a very grown-up adult? Batty & I think, therefore, that it is imperative that as we grow older we also grow younger. That way, once we are both very old and very young, we can be delightful with true maturity. (Not the kind of maturity that S.I.K.s shun, but real maturity, which includes childlikeness.)]

[Excursus #2 (Sondy’s Theorem on the Retention of Ages): We do not lose any age as we gain another.

Proof (by Contradiction):

Assume the contrary, that is, that I lose one of my past ages when I have a birthday, in particular, that I lose 19 when I turn 20.

But 20 – 19 = 1. So if I lost 19, I would only be 1. This contradicts the fact that I am 20.

Therefore, by the Law of the Excluded Middle, the assumption is false and we do not lose any age as we gain another. Q.E.D.

Example #1: “I am 3 years old,” is a true statement. I am 3, and then some.

Example #2: David Copperfield is every bit as much David Copperfield when he appears as young David, adolescent David, and grown David. All exist between the covers of the book at the same time, and all are David Copperfield. That is how we are to God. (This example comes, I believe, from C. S. Lewis, and is perhaps only distantly related to my Theorem, but I think it helps demonstrate the truth.)]

After this, I brainstormed ideas of ways to keep our club going. We also proposed new members. I think it’s telling what factors made someone a good candidate. Here’s what I said about Carolyn:

Examples of her silliness include: shooting rubber bands over the partitions, playing with a punching ball, going to our SMAC Party, playing kamikaze waterguns, owning a silly calendar, keeping a Doo-da bird on her desk, playing with the electric door, and making silly predictions about the people who walk through the said door. These are merely a few trivial examples of her inherent silliness. I have known and watched her long and have become convinced that she is deeply and truly Silly, and would make a worthy member of our club.

Rereading these documents and recognizing that I am still twenty years old – I have set myself a high bar indeed.

Onward, to search for sparkles!

And today, reading through this file was a bright one.

Joy to you!


  1. I arrived at your page to read on a different topic and stumbled upon this lovely, lovely story. I feel so many emotions bubbling up and I can’t quite find the words to explain that today when I read this, I saw so many of my past ages, still there inside me, all this time ignored and neglected. Past me would have loved to be a part of your S.I.K. club! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this!

  2. Oh, thank you for that, Shelly! I’ll be honest — since writing that, other things have overshadowed looking for Silliness and Joy and honoring Gina. Thank you, too, for the reminder. Past me reaches out to past you, discovering a kindred spirit with great joy! 🙂

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