When we were five years old, do you remember how we did what we damn well pleased?
The book Running & Being: The Total Experience by Dr George Sheehan has been a heart-mind-eye opener. Dr Sheehan writes about going back to our 5 year old selves. That age when we viewed our world as our playground. It was a time when money had no meaning, food on the table did not worry us, and mortgages were unheard of.
We were fearless. We jumped over (small) chairs and tables, we climbed (small) trees like Tarzan and Jane. We poked and pushed our physical boundaries and our parent’s ‘annoy’ buttons.
We were curious. We asked a lot of questions, we thought out loud, we were very tactless. Our inquiring minds were pure and filled with wonder. We did not worry about what-ifs. We were only concerned with why-nots. Shy, we weren’t!
We pursued PLAY like there was no tomorrow. We played hard from sunup to sundown. Amoy-araw, mabantot! But we were free and happy. We sang with abandon and danced like Michael Jackson.
Our imagination ran wild. We pretended to “live” under the stairs in our own castles (bahay-bahayan). I remember how I drove wildly in my “pretend racing car” that was my Grandma Glen’s Singer sewing machine!
We were great artists. We scribbled on every sheet of paper we can get our grubby hands on, including the newspaper clippings from the tiangge (wet market), with no regard for tones nor techniques. We painted endlessly. We used sticks and stones to draw stick persons on the sand.
We were relentless athletes. We raced each other down dirt roads. We ran until our lungs burst, our legs were never tired. We were always exploring every nook and cranny of our neighbourhood.
And then what…what happened? What happened to US?
People around us happened, that’s what. We were told not to run outside because “Kapag madapa ka at magkasugat, hindi ka na pwedeng maging Ms Philippines”. Our wings got clipped. We were told to walk this way, instead of run. Be ladylike and talk in a small voice. Pursue a career and not be a labandera (housemaid). (That by the way, was the only good thing that came out of being good girls. The rest ruined our true Selves!)
We were measured against other people’s expectations. We joined the herd. We went to school, moved to big city, got a job, found a husband, raised children, (some of us) moved overseas, acquired a mortgage. Where were WE all this time? We were living the life that was “expected”, we parked our true inner selves.
Did you know that our own unique personality was developed between 0 to 5 years old? I heard/read that somewhere. As we grow older, our behaviour is formed. Behaviour is how we react to other people, how we carry ourselves in this thing called life, our perception of the world and vice versa. Our personalities will never change, but behaviour can be learned, unlearned and practiced to suit. The person with the most flexible behaviour wins. ~ paraphrased from Jenny O’Farrell’s workshop ~ Who Are You, Really?, Optus September 2014
It took me ~40 years to learn what happened to me. ~40 years before I went back inside to let my inner child out. I am glad I found myself again. Yes I love my family, yes I will die for them. But my real happiness, the thing that makes my heart beat the hardest is M.E. loving and living my authentic self. It is a looong journey back. Almost a marathon in years!
And how do you go back to your inner 5 year old, I hear you ask. By doing what you damn well please. I have already given ~40 years of my life trying to meet society’s “expectations”. I’d like to think that I have exceeded it. That thing called “The Pursuit of Happiness”? That’s not outside of you nor is it out there somewhere in the world. Happiness is within you. You can make yourself happy anytime; not in some distant future when you retire. It’s your NOW. Your PRESENT. It’s where and who you are right now.
Happiness is not that next holiday you are dreaming of, nor that next car you are lusting for. It’s that cake you will bake this weekend, that sketch you will do tomorrow, that conversation you have with your bestie, that quiet moment when you are praying, that one hour to yourself in yoga/pilates class, that 30 minutes of hard running intervals, that other 30 minutes of swim laps at your local pool, that one hour of gym after work, that knitting project, that song you are playing in your guitar/piano/drums. All these “self-serving” things you must do regularly, daily, consistently. Write a novel for yourself, zumba for yourself, play the drums for yourself, knit yourself a cardigan, plant flowers and grow your own food, learn how to surf, learn Italian…all for yourself!
Real joy comes from Ordinary Everyday Magic, as my writing buddy Chiqui likes to say. I am going to add this ~ Magic is in doing things for yourself!
Here is my recent learning. When my sons see me running outside at 6am every Saturday, or at 7pm weeknights, I am telling them this ~ What matters most is “Doing what you love, and doing it often” (words from The Holstee Manifesto). Ika nga ng asawa ko ~ Happy wife, happy life.
Own your happiness! Find your inner five year old…then hit PLAY!
PS. If you have no memory of your five year old self, don’t despair. Think of high school. In high school, we developed to our full potential only to repress ourselves again. Today, its time to grow into our MAXIMUM potential. No more excuses. It’s in the doing, baby, not in the thinking about it…