Chasm Between Childhood & Elder…

Her eyes sparkle with joyful trust, her feet skip with abandoned freedom, her voice rises with no apology and her hands reach for the dust that sparkles in glittered suspension. She is free, wild and in ecstatic expression of the bliss which always is…

Her face was lined from years of living. Her eyes twinkled, bursting with memories etched like fireworks on a dark night. Her smile beckoned one to sit and listen. Her legs no longer danced, they lay bent and disfigured on the bed, raw open bed sores seeping at her hips. Her vibrant spirit encircled you the moment you stepped into her space, there was no victim in this room, no woe is me, instead one was greeted with dynamic passion, simple happiness, and a peacefulness that gently kissed you on the cheek. 

Who are the “her’s” I speak of? The first is me, dancing in my childhood living room, chasing the sun dust I stirred up with my exuberant joy. The second “her” is a divine woman I was blessed to care for in a nursing home years ago. Her aliveness, grace, peace, and love still dance in my memory. She and others I cared for knew a truth, as did the child in me. 

What did they know? They knew that happiness, love, peace and contentment always exist. They knew tranquility and exuberance did not exist in things outside themselves. They knew that it was accessible in all moments. They knew that no one could give it to them, yet they lovingly shared it. They knew it was a choice.

The years and space between innocent curious childhood and the wisdom of one’s latter years is full of “shoulds,” “comparisons,” “judgments,” and the measuring of oneself against a society often textured with fear and distrust. I do not have to sit very long in a cafe before I can hear someone criticizing themselves, or attacking someone else. The stories swirl around like the sound of an espresso machine, surging like the white foam with blame, shame, hurt, victimhood and discontent. It breeds like flies on a patio table, snatching up every scrappy morsel to inject the psyche with why life is so miserable. 

Why do humans choose this? A question I have pondered since I was five years old. Why do we let go of our passionate desires to instead fly someone else’s kite? Why do we slam the door on the pure potential of joy? Why do we kick happiness to the curb, to welcome and invite stressful frustration? Why do we say “have to” instead of “get to”? Why do we choose to go through our days and moments on auto-pilot, waiting for someone or something else to make us better? Do we prefer to wait, to lie on our deathbed watching the autobiographical movie of regret? Why do we look in the mirror with such self contempt and hatred, for as young children we loved our reflection? I ask all of this with curiosity and a desire to understand.

A body twitches with delightful anticipation when a matchstick of wonder is lit beneath…

In my sophomore year of college I was blessed to work at an international daycare. Here I witnessed children from all over the world. They danced, played, laughed, cried, and enacted make believe stories together. Dynamically they engaged with each moment in present enthusiasm, viewing the world as a frontier to be explored. I sensed that the older children were on the fringe of losing this curious wonderment. In their play I observed them mimicking adults, their eyes became serious, their jaw set tightly, their voices lowered into somberness, like smoke their joy, spontaneity, compassion and kindness disappeared into the passing wind gust, leaving behind a robotic body controlled by the “taught” mind. 

Three years after working in a daycare, I found myself working in a nursing home. Here I discovered the grace and vengeance of aging. I was gifted to share time with souls who lived a full passionate life and others who were embittered with regret. The extreme chasm between the two slapped me stingingly as I would leave one room to enter the other. My heart and soul ached for those fighting their own shadow, their anger and inability to forgive expressed through pinches, punches, and verbal abuse as I tried to assist them to the toilet, shower or dining hall. Off the clock, I cherished the moments I got to sit and listen to the stories from those celebrating life. Stories of falling in love, having children, riding in a car for the first time, rising above struggle, appreciating the gentle flow of seasons, years, experiences, and the pure grace of a life lived fully. 

In my forties I found myself teaching language arts to junior high students. Here I witnessed the cross over in technicolor poignancy. A few young people desperately clung to their innocent pure belief that anything is possible, that one could reach for their dreams with unbridled passion. The majority of the students had given up, they did not dream, instead they chased visions of their future painted on the wall by parents and society. They swallowed hard the doses of expectations fed to them with the famous mantras, “when I have lots of money I will be happy, when I get my degree I will be happy, when I buy a house I will be happy, when I marry I will be happy, WHEN I… I will then be HAPPY. 

Ironically the joke is on us, for much of life is lived between the wild child and the wise elder. Thus I am forever grateful for the life altering gift of witnessing snapshots of age through my diverse professional life. They have  graced me with an awareness and microscopic view that life is really just a brief sojourn. A brief interlude to experience as I choose. 

Today I watch the sun dust with the pure delight of my four year old wonderment, I dance with unlimited joy, for I am not young, nor old, I am in between, kissing each spec of time with gratitude. 

Today I invite you to join me, breathe deeply into the child you once were before life manipulated you. 

Today I encourage you to take back the string to your own kite, feel it dance freely upon the winds of raw, wild adventurous, exploration. 

Invitations to play:

  • Dance to your favorite music.
  • Sing with unbridled enthusiasm.
  • Daydream upon the page, letting the ink describe what your heart can imagine.
  • Play the “what if” game – on a piece of paper and/or in your mind play out the potential of following a dream…
  • Meditate quietly, letting the images and thoughts arise from within.
  • Color, paint, create, letting yourself express freely.
  • Close your eyes to feel into and remember the child within, what did you love, enjoy, imagine…
  • Invite your inner child to play, then get ready for some fun, as you embrace the wonder and curiosity.

I’m curious, do you prefer to hang around the serious, somber, practical person or find great joy in spending time around someone who is passionate, vibrant, dynamic and happily living life?

Your soul’s invitation…

Which one are you?

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