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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Recapturing Exuberance

While being enchanted by the unalloyed exuberance of a group of young children frolicking on the beach recently, I began reflecting: When did I begin losing that kind of boundless joy? How difficult would it be, really, to recapture that exuberance? And, what is preventing me from doing so? 

Although this is hardly the first time my wondering has travelled down this path, in the few days since watching those children, the time I spent recalling my transition from childhood to adolescence brought a fresh insight to me. Have you ever witnessed a group of teenagers tapping into uninhibited exuberance? I am quite certain I have not. More to the point, Pat as an adolescent would no sooner have acted like those children on the beach than he would have scaled Mt. Everest. Think of what any teenage cohort would say to one of theirs caught acting like those children - "Grow up!", "Act your age!", "You are so immature!", etc. 

Truth be told, even as a thinking adult, I've probably said - or at least thought - similar things on those occasions when I've observed an adolescent acting child-like. And there's the answer to question #1 in my opening paragraph above. Part of the price paid for becoming an adolescent is a diminished ability to tap into boundless joy.

This moment the second and third questions from my first paragraph are not as hard to untangle. It will not be at all difficult to recapture that exuberance if I stay in today's mindful space. The only thing preventing me from doing so is me. If I let go of all the stories attached to "grow up", "act your age" and "you are so immature", in no time at all I can be just like those children again, wide-eyed and immersed in the wonder of the beach, myself, and the magical world that surrounds each of us. 

10 comments:

  1. This is so true. When we tap into the part of ourselves that allows for unbridled joy, we invite criticism from others. But isn't it the fear of vulnerability that can also be called "fear of joy?" Because people tend to think that if we are joyful, we are not "protecting ourselves." I try to remind myself that playing small, or playing "mature" is only in service of others, and not my own happiness. More joy!

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    1. Ali; Thanks for the comment, especially because this one is more expansive than usual for you. I agree that showing our joy and and worrying about our vulnerability often go hand-in-hand. Good insight.

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  2. I love watching children frolicking at the beach. I view joy as a birth right. And I practice it often. The first principle of Nia is "The Joy of Movement."I guess I am lucky I don't consider it immature....

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    1. Ines; If we could all view joy as a "birth right" more often, imagine what we would unleash. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Interesting piece. Ever notice how even inside the house, children run, not walk, from one place to the other. I often wonder how it would be if all adults did that and it always makes me smile when I do.

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    1. Bob; Good to see another comment from you. You are so right about that running thing. I'm going to try to remember to envision adults doing the same thing the next time I watch kids do that. I'm sure it will bring a smile to my face as well.

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  4. Good morning, Pat. I hope this finds you all doing well.
    There are so many things that come to mind as a result of this post. Thinking back on things my parents would say. Or that my grandparents said. And that I, at times, find myself saying. Or, more to the point and definitely more often, thinking but not saying. And I find myself wondering 'Why'? Is it because of the greater focus on being more politically correct? Probably a big part of that is, but I also think it's more because who wants to be thought of as old? Complaining about one genre of music over another, what people do to have fun, what defines 'youthful exuberance'? and how that definition changes form one person, from one generation, to another.
    I always look for the simple things. Nothing too deep, too serious. I try to have as much fun as possible. Serious things happen no matter what you do, so I react when I have to and enjoy life in between. Hopefully these in-between times are greater and more often. I heard, or read, somewhere 'I may get older, but I refuse to grow up". And it all goes back to that 'Peter Pan syndrome' I've mentioned before. At a friends daughters wedding a few years ago they served dessert first. Not the wedding cake, just dessert. It was accompanied with napkins that read "Life Is Short. Eat Dessert First". Words to live, and enjoy life, by.
    Be well,
    Bob

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    1. Bob; Thanks for this comment, and for your other on my next post. There are certainly worse things than being called Peter Pan. I'll take that over fuddy-duddy any day.

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  5. Don't know if you will read this, but I immediately thought about a recent experience I had while trying to fly a kite! I think we could get some kites for our trip to bar harbor!

    The kite took me outside myself, filled me with wild laughter and hope and disappointment. The power of the wind overcame any language burdened experience!! I can't wait to do it again!!!

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    1. Unknown (who is known to me); Kite flying is a great example of a way to recapture exuberance. Thanks for your first ever public comment; I sincerely hope it won't be your last.

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