My ten year-old son arrived home from school the other day in an uncharacteristically foul mood. Every aspect of his being – from his countenance and physical demeanor to the energy radiating from his eyes – revealed the abject misery that he was feeling. All he would say, however, was that he had had a “bad day”. He went straight to his bedroom, and (also uncharacteristically) spent the next twenty minutes alone in retreat. I have no doubt that the first ten of those minutes were spent wallowing in his sorrow, but at some point, a shift occurred. At some point he resolved within himself to cease indulging the darkness and run, unhesitatingly toward the light. At some point he decided to throw himself into creation.
And after the short period of solitude, he emerged from his sanctuary smiling.
I am so impressed by his ability to console himself, and his self-aware knowledge of what would bring him back from the edge. I confess this is a skill which often eludes me, when faced with my own dark moods. My son, at the age of ten, understands that the seeds of his own happiness are within himself, and that he need only sow them in order to restore the balance.
We each possess these seeds within us, often buried deep, although not sown. For my son on this day, they were manifest in Lego, for me it is often singing or cooking. For you it might be drawing or writing or gardening or any number of activities that serve to feed your soul in those moments when it is in dire need of nourishment.
The trick is remembering that they are there, the seeds of your own happy-ness, and that you have access to them and the ability to bring yourself back from that edge at any given moment. At some point when you are again ready to step into the light.
What seeds are you sowing today? Are they feeding your happy-ness?
I too am finding the joys of play once again in my mid-30’s. Since coming back into my childhood home after my mother’s passing, I have discovered two distinctly creative outlets to help me cope with my feelings, used at various points on my journey- poetry and play itself. I wrote prolifically for a while several years ago, as a way to express things that had been bottled up for so long. My poetry has also served as a message of hope for myself and my peers who have similar struggles. As for play, the idea of reclaiming my ‘stolen’ childhood has appealed to me. I have always felt that I grew up way too fast, taking care of my mother when she should have been nurturing me. To nurture my young spirit, I like blowing bubbles and catching lightning bugs (fireflies) in the summer the most. I also love the feel of Georgia red clay in my fingers as I mold it- once you make it into something and let it dry, you can keep it forever. I still have a small bowl I made as a child. I have to think about those things I experienced as a kid to keep from being so angry and bitter. I admit that’s an uphill battle some days. I realize in saying that how crucial play is for me in my circumstance now. In theory, play is not meant to be for survival purposes, but perhaps for me it is. I can definitely see how we sow our own seeds of happy-ness. I am finding more and more that although I am able to lean on folks for support (for which I am forever grateful), I realize I must find my center in times I am by myself or when I am in public and don’t know folks. That’s a part of balance, too.
Two thoughts come to mind when reading your comment, Jen.
– I, too, adore blowing bubbles! (I don’t admit that aloud often, although I don’t consider it a secret. It seems somehow very indulgent to allow the essence of one’s inner child to frolic that unabashedly, but I don’t consider that a bad thing.)
– I absolutely believe that play is “meant to be for survival purposes”, and that we suffer when we suppress that innate requirement. The voice that beckons us to “come and play” is our own human spirit, and we do well to heed its call.
Thanks for responding to my comment, Christiana. I admit that I had to ponder Rev. Jan’s comment during one of her messages a few weeks back where she mentioned play. She included information on the theory behind play from some research (I can’t remember the source) and she mentioned that play is not meant to be for survival purposes (according to the research/theory). I thought at that point that I had to totally disagree with that conclusion, based on my experience as described in my response to your writing today. Thanks for your commitment and time to Words of Wisdom? and your chats with me on Sundays. I will see you soon. Jen G.
Yes, I recall her mentioning that, and I felt the need to reject it as well. I am aware, of course, that “play” (as it is generally defined) is not necessary for our physical survival (and I know that is what Rev. Jan was referring to), but I, personally believe it to be essential to our spiritual well being. And – again, to me – when I’m talking about “survival”, I’m talking body AND soul. Which is what I hear you addressing when you share your experiences.
I’m so glad the Words are resonating with you, Jen. Thank you for reading and responding. That means a lot.