I am interested in what everyone else is doing and thinking about life and personal happiness. I like reading other peoples' life lessons, secondhand self help. I don't always agree with them, but I am fascinated and curious to learn others' observations and often I learn something that I can apply to myself (or remember when I do something disastrous) and my little meander. In the spirit of this, even though I don't think that I have any new insights to pass on, I'm going to start writing down my own life lessons. Don't expect any brilliant novel thoughts here, it could be that the only thing they accomplish is to get me thinking more coherently. I have no idea how many lessons I have in me, and the order has no importance, just have to start somewhere.
Life Lesson: Don't be a grown up.
In general, I think that acting like an adult, conforming to social rules, caring about what others think, and being so preoccupied with all the serious grown up problems to the point that we cannot be in the moment (generally because we are busy staring at our smart phones, oh I'm so guilty of that) crushes our creativity, strangles our belief in our deepest desires, and limits our thoughts and our ability to notice all of the beautiful, interesting things happening around us.
I have two beautiful, interesting, creative children. They whine about my rule of not watching tv during the week, but when I leave them alone for a few minutes, the complaining stops and they invent and act out stories and dialog and immerse themselves in make believe, and they love it.
The more I watch my kids, the more I realise that yes, they are woefully unprepared for retirement and they are a bit too obsessed with Spongebob Squarepants, but they also have a natural desire to imagine themselves in the things they enjoy the most, and they have a clear and certain sense of self. As they get older, that will deteriorate, but right now all doors are open to them, every dream is possible, every aspiration is a reality. My daughter told me at the table yesterday that she is going to be a dentist, a dancer, a teacher, and a singer, then threw in scientist when she heard her brother say that's what he is going to be. Why not?
When I was a kid, my belief in my talents was infinite just like my kids - what happened? I was going to be an Egyptologist and a musician and have adventures and travel and play piano and discover new mummies. When did I start being "realistic" about my abilities and goals and limiting myself? Why can't I take the advice I give the kids about believing in yourself and doing the things you love even if you are not the best at them? It is harder to define yourself as your knowledge of choices and options expands, but at some point I let myself settle for something that was less than my dream. It's so easy to just keep plodding when you have bills and debt and people to support and a future to plan ahead for, but where is the joy?
I think of all the people in my life who I admire, and one of the things that most of them seem to have done was given themselves permission to believe in their dreams. It doesn't mean that they are super confident people, but more that they know their hopes and desires and know that they can pursue them. I'm trying to learn that.
When I think about how my kids answer the what do you want to be question, I also realise that their decisions, while based on movies or maybe characters in books, are chosen out of enthusiasm and excitement and passion. It doesn't matter whether the decisions don't take into account all the hard work and effort it takes to get there, it's important that they get excited about the non-monetary result of the job - helping people, teaching people, making an audience cheer, doing something that gives them joy.
So, what do I do with this lesson? Well, I didn't quit my job and move to Egypt. So far, I have started taking piano lessons, I try to write a lot more and seek out the things I love, I let myself believe in my secret hopes and desires for myself, and yes, I go to my less-than-perfect job, but I try to be more creative there as well.
And I get excited and jump up and down about the things that make me happy because life is too short to be grown up.