As I was breezing through Facebook a few days ago I came across this picture:
After laughing at the intense look on the little girl's face and the quote, it struck a chord. A really big, two-handed, stretch-your-fingers-as-far-as-they-can-reach chord.
Because it made me realize this is exactly the feeling we are missing as we get older. THIS is the way we felt every single day as kids. We would never consider NOT feeling this way. We got an idea and we acted on it because we knew it would make us feel amazing.
My mother's aunt baby-sat us one weekend, and found us with every cushion from her patio furniture all over the yard and under the porch. The Olympics had nothing on us. Jumping from the deck, running and doing flips in the air, and perfecting twists and mid-air gyrations was extremely important so we could get high scores from the judges. Although I don't think she liked the idea of seven year old kids jumping off the side of her house...
There were no parents there, no one to buy us $200 uniforms, and more importantly, we were doing our own thing. Because, as my son said when he was eight, grown-ups ruin everything. He was talking about playing sports on the school team at that moment, but I knew what he meant. We take our lives and unfortunately the lives of our kids so seriously at such a young age that we take away their fun. We are controlling and feel the need to impart our wishes on our children. They feel too much stress far too early. They need time to be kids, to figure out their OWN ferocious games, and "get good" at something just because THEY love it--not because of something we want from them. We were superheros that day at my aunt's house, and each of us was completely exhilarated and exhausted at the end of the day. I'm pretty sure we went to sleep happy.
Another day we took every scarf, pillow case, sheet and towel from the linen closet and made a house on the weeping willow tree in the back yard by hanging everything from the drooping branches with clothes pins. We came in for dinner starving and not realizing we had been outside for hours. It was like magic--we created our own world.
This post also made me realize that we let our fears stop us from doing so many things. "I would love to write a book but.... I would love to try out for a commercial but... I would love to mountain bike or belly dance or play guitar..." You get the idea.
Of course money is an issue. Time also. But there is still that part of me that wants to do Leap-a-Letics in front of my friend Michael's house in the winter because his sidewalk still freezes perfectly in January. Everything was a competition then, and it felt great. No one was worried that too much competition was going to ruin our self esteem. If we did a bad leap--we were given a bad score. Nobody cried. It felt great to practice something and get better at it just because we wanted to do it. Not because school said to to do it or our parents. But because we LOVED to do it.
I want to be excited and terrified again. I want to do cartwheels in my backyard just because it is sunny and learn how to do a backwards dive into my pool. And I want to give my son the space to create his own world too. But for now I have to go...my people need me. :)
P.S. My short story ABSORBED is currently in the TOP 20 in Amazon.