fun without the guilt
Some of us are just born old. Asking us when we knew we were grown-ups is like asking us to solve a quantum physics problem in our head. We simply have no frame of reference; we’ve always felt grown-up. As children we felt the weight of the world on our tiny shoulders even though they weren’t ready to carry such a load. Atlas may have shrugged it off but we couldn’t. Circumstances of our childhood conspired together in such a way as to guarantee we would skip over some important stages. The sense of wonder, freedom and innocence eluded us. Fun became a four-letter word.
We see smiling pictures of ourselves in photo albums but can’t remember what could possibly have even prompted those smiles. We do remember some good times, like catching fireflies on a summer’s evening and jailing them in a glass prison. We remember making tents out of blankets and playing in them with our toys. We remember rolling lopsided balls of snow into distorted snowmen. We can even remember hugs and kisses and warm moments of intimacy.
But we also remember how quickly and how rare were those cherished moments. We couldn’t enjoy those fleeting moments because we feared they would slip away too soon. They often did. We knew those singular moments of happiness weren’t our life; they were just cruel snippets of what could be, what should be.
There is an old Southern saying that states, “If you don’t crawl before you walk, you will crawl before you die.” I think that means we are meant to experience certain phases in our life at appropriate times. Becoming an adult too soon is one of those “not crawling before we walk” kind of experiences. Doctors tell us not to push our children to stand up too soon because their leg muscles haven’t developed properly and it could cause injury. The same is true for our emotions. Growing up too soon cripples us in many ways.
We were forced to experience adulthood way ahead of schedule. Our under-developed emotional muscles were simply not ready to take on such mature themes. Because of that, we became survivors. When life gets overwhelming now, we put our big girl panties on and tell ourselves to “grow up for crying out loud”. And the truth is we do a pretty good job; we have been trained well.
I finally realized I could have fun, even pursue it intentionally. I now enjoy life without feeling guilty. I no longer feel I’m ignoring the suffering in the world just because I laugh. Maybe laughter is what helps up grow compassion. It gets our minds off ourselves for a while and keeps us emotionally stable. I know that I am more compassionate now and extend myself more now because I’m a healthier person over all. And one of those reasons is because I’ve learned to have fun.
How about you? Are you free enough of the past to laugh and have fun in the present?