“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” e.e.cummings
As a child, mom would send us outside to play for hours. It was in these play periods with my siblings that I had grand adventures and made delicious discoveries.
I was an Indian Princess riding a fallen tree that had become my majestic steed. I discovered that baby birds and frogs couldn’t survive long in a shoebox, and that butterfly’s and fireflies did not belong in mason jars. I was a circus performer on a bike and a star in a barn that doubled for a stage.
I loved to explore and create. I was amused by the simplest things. Like the way a velvety leaf felt in my hands or the way a buttercup’s yellow petals would reflect off my skin if it caught the light just so.
I remember being precocious and bold when I was young. If I had an idea that made sense to my young mind, I would pursue it. Such as the time in 4th grade that I persuaded a few of my classmates to sneak with me onto a basketball court and perform a roughly made-up cheer before a crowd of puzzled spectators – all because our school team had no cheerleaders and I plainly thought we should.
Unfortunately, well-meaning adults squelched my creative enthusiasm in their efforts to teach me more suitable skills – like sitting still and paying attention. Creativity and play became frivolous as I grew into adulthood.
I am not advocating for an undisciplined life, but play and creative expression can give birth to ideas and solutions to some of the most puzzling problems.
So, here I am on the other side of 50, and I am letting myself out to play again – liberating myself from old fears (fear of failure, of looking foolish, of disappointing), and small, narrow judgements. I am leaping out of my comfort zone to experience life and make new discoveries that I would never make by staying where it’s “safe.”
To all of my children – I’m sorry that I didn’t let you play longer, and for suppressing your creative virtues in favor of the more manageable ones, and for the times I was too busy to pay attention to your big, bold imaginations. Fortunately, you outwitted me. You never forgot how to play and you didn’t choose to follow the “safe” path; and as a result you are making amazing discoveries about yourself and experiencing all that you are capable of. You inspire me!
And what about you?
Can you remember when you had the boldness and creativity of a child? What were you going to do when you grew up? Who were you going to become? Is your grown-up purpose still locked in there somewhere? Or, have you exchanged the joy of creativity for more suitable skills?
If so, and if at all possible, please make time to go outside and play!