An Adultitis Fighter is someone who rallies against rules that don’t exist and engages in ruthless, senseless acts of silliness that undermine Adultitis and its unadventurous version of adulthood. Once a month, we shine a light upon the most remarkable among us, holding them up as a dazzling example of what we should strive for in this epic battle against a formidable enemy.
Geoff Akins is as close as you’ll ever get to a real-life Willy Wonka, except that instead of making chocolate, Geoff makes his living making bubbles. We have seen him make magic with those bubbles, and his artistry leaves children awestruck and turns adults into children. He has a kind heart and an old soul that somehow never bothered to grow up. Geoff is the “Perpetually Positive Pied Piper of Possibility” who has presented to over one million people worldwide. The only critic of his Bubble Shows might be Adultitis itself, because the programs delight people of all ages, inspiring them to dream big and believe that anything is possible. Geoff and his equally talented wife, Jen, presented at the the second Escape Adulthood Summit, and we feel incredibly blessed to know them and their awesome little family.
In recognition of their efforts, Adultitis Fighters of the Month receive a special mini-canvas hand-painted by Jason, along with a certificate of honor, a sweet patch, and other Adultitis-Fighting tools. We asked Geoff some questions about how he fights the Big A and what advice he has for others…
What are some of your favorite ways to fight Adultitis?
Play! I play with everything from bubbles to boomerangs. Just the other day, I spent nearly a half hour exploring how I could use the static electricity from my hands to make a helium balloon float around the room. It looked like magic! Playing with my kids is especially rewarding when I allow myself to totally let go and enter fully into the imaginal realm with them. My family also loves our spontaneous Dance Time where we pump up “the Jumping Music” (U2’s song, The Miracle) and boogie all over the kitchen floor together. I once helped organize a Bubble-blowing flash mob! I also love making creative photos and videos that chronicle the passage of time with my family, like in the Phone Booth series and our annual hotel luggage rack hallway race videos!
I tend to be an outsider/outlier. I’ve always felt a bit different. I am programmed, personality-wise, to be ever-young-at-heart. In essence, I’m hard-wired to combat Adultitis. It’s just my genetic make up. Over the years, people have gradually accepted me for who I am and that acceptance gives me a certain freedom because now people almost expect me to do things outside the norm.
Case in point, my Calling allows me to play every day. I am a professional speaker who uses bubbles, interactive experiences, and heart-felt stories to inspire others to follow their dreams! I have carved out a sweet niche where I get to play for a living!
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your own fight against Adultitis?
*Children! My nieces and nephews, the students I encountered while teaching, kids in the neighborhood, children in the checkout line, and the children who attend my Bubble Wonders shows. Now that I’m a parent I have even more opportunities to learn these lessons on an even deeper level from my son, Zander and my daughter, Gracie.
*Kim and Jason! The materials you two produce are invaluable resources. When you find tools that work you get them and use them. I bought boxes of your wonderful book, Penguins Can’t Fly and give them to my clients as Thank You gifts!
I’ve always loved the sayings, “You have to grow older; you don’t have to grow up,” and “You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing.”
What is something you loved doing as a child that you still do in some form today?
Play. Make people laugh. Play with puppets. We have lots of them and my kids are constantly handing me one pleading, “Talk him, Papa!” The cool thing is I can use their love of puppets to get them to do things they won’t do for me. Won’t go potty? But if Mr. Fox asks it’s a whole different story! Reading comic boo…uhm, I mean, “graphic novels”, collect pop-up books and animated flip books, singing made-up songs that give a running commentary of whatever is going on in the moment.
What is your strategy for dealing with people who are obviously infected with Adultitis?
My approach is two-fold: 1. For the the obvious hardcore cases, I simply limit my exposure to those sorts of people or situations in order to minimize the chance they can effect my mood. 2. Reminding them that escaping adulthood is about remaining child-like, not acting childish. I love drawing out the inner child in adults whenever possible. This is a powerful and crucial factor of the success of my Bubble Wonders presentations. I am ever respectful and also use a lot of gentle humor in order to create a space where my adult volunteers feel safe enough to play with me on stage. I always publicly thank them for their bravery and willingness to model for others that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood!
What advice do you have for someone who is feeling overwhelmed by Adultitis?
We live in Woodstock, Illinois, where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. It’s a great reminder that every day is another chance to do better. Learn what works and let go of the rest. We all step into our puddles, until we decide to take a different route.
Baby steps. Start small and reconnect with whatever memories you have of those things in childhood that made you smile and laugh and lift your spirits, then find ways of incorporating some of those things into your life again. The more we do it the easier it becomes. Doing fun things with like-minded adults makes it even easier because surrounding yourself with kindred spirits gives you permission to play. That’s one of the appeals of the Escape Adulthood Summit.
Give yourself little reminders…in our family we have a tradition where we leave little drawings of hearts where someone else can find them. Discovering them in my suitcase when I’m on tour, or in my car on the way to a gig, always makes me smile and pause for a moment and relish the love and the gentle reminder.
Cry. This is a new and huge lesson for me. I’ve recently realized escaping adulthood isn’t solely about getting in touch with the fun side of childhood. That’s just one facet of living with a child’s heart. Kids feel everything so deeply. And their emotions are right there on the surface. They don’t try to hide what they’re feeling, they don’t stifle it down, “suck it up,” or try to “be a man” about it. When kids are sad or in pain, they cry.
I’m slowly learning I can do the same. For many men crying is taboo. Adultitis tells us “real men don’t cry,” despite how in other times and cultures throughout history a man’s capacity to cry indicated his honesty and integrity. I’m fighting over 50 years of conditioning that says men who cry are somehow weak but the results so far have been positive. I recently wept in a private situation where I felt totally safe and supported (thanks, Jen!) and the experience was brief but deeply cathartic. The pent up tension I had been suppressing melted away and I felt more present and energized for days afterward!
Crying is beneficial on several levels. After a good cry we feel better both physically and emotionally because the harmful chemicals that build up within our bodies during times of stress are released in the process. Crying releases tension, has no side effects, and is absolutely free.
You’ve heard of Laughter Yoga? In Japan there’s a similar trend where people gather in Crying Clubs and watch sad movies for the therapeutic purpose of having a good cry.
Further, crying can actually serve a deeper purpose. We adults cry less often than when we were kids and the situations that causes us to cry are more often emotional than physical in nature. However, whether intentional or not, as adult or child, we cry to seek assistance, whether physical help or emotional comfort. From that place of wholeness and comfort we can more easily move back into the healing power of laughter once more. Crying focuses us inward and then laughter helps us transcend our suffering and reconnect with others. Once again children provide the perfect example. They feel sad/hurt, they cry, they are comforted and next thing you know they’re up and running around laughing again!
There’s a wonderful quote by Kahlil Gibran that sums it up nicely, “Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.”
Anything else you’d like to share?
Look for the Win-Win! If you can do what you love and brighten another person’s day in the process then you create a little miracle! My favorite current example was when I took the bi-plane ride with Marty the Penguin!
Congrats to Geoff Akins, February 2016 Adultitis Fighter of the Month. Thank you for making the world more awesome!