When was the last time you had So Much Fun?
Sit down for a minute and have a little think, a think to the last time you had so much fun. No, fun is not the most perfect word exactly, it’s too vague, too generalized. I think the word I am looking for is more like exhilaration, you know, like those photos from Disneyland as you are about to fall down the waterfall on the log-ride, and just as you start to drop a camera snaps your photo as your hair is flying, your mouth open wide in a scream, and perhaps your hands are up in the air. Some may look at that photo you’ve fondly displayed and think “Oh my god, that looks scary, you were very brave.” while others might comment “wow, that looks like SO MUCH FUN!” The second comment is what I’m aiming for here, the SO-MUCH-FUN part. The part where you’ve let yourself go, screamed like a little girl, and laughed so hard you cried. That is the kind of fun I am talking about. The fun we rarely have, and when we do we think and talk about it for days after.
What if we could have that exhilarating fun all the time? How much better would our lives be? Those times we did experience it, how much did it energize us? How much did we smile for hours, days, weeks after, just at the very memory of it?
So why don’t we always have fun?
We all love to have fun, we just don’t always allow ourselves to have the most fun. Why not? Part of it could be that you were out with a subdued crowd, or in a place where that kind of behaviour is deemed anti-social. Or perhaps you are feeling too old and rickety in your years to let yourself feel like a child without a care in the world. There are always reasons, excuses.
I believe fun has one main inhibitor: judgement. Too many people judge others these days, even when they don’t really believe they are. As a result, many people hold themselves back too much because of fears of what others will think of them. We can tell ourselves we don’t care what others think of us, and we can teach our kids to not care either, but then we still do, maybe not overly much, but when we find ourselves in a new place, a new situation, how often do we look around at what others are doing so that we can adjust ourselves accordingly and try and fit in, act natural etc? It’s a need within us, a need to fit in, be accepted, and to belong that causes us to watch what others do, and follow suit with our actions, not laughing loud if others aren’t, not dancing ecstatically if everyone is dancing subdued and watching your every move.
If we stopped caring about things like reputations, and what people think of us, if we stopped judging others, and stopped caring when people judge us, how much more fun would we have? We can have exhilarating fun without being anti-social, and causing a ruckus although we will probably laugh and smile so much more.
I believe that if we have to look to others for acceptance, it’s because deep down inside, we don’t fully accept ourselves, and who we truly are. I also believe that self-acceptance comes in layers. It is not something you do or don’t do, it’s gradual, it has layers, and layers, and more layers. The more you peel them away, the less you care. Just when you think you really do accept yourself, and allow other people’s judgments and opinions to drip down, and wash off as beads of water do, you find surprisingly one day that you actually do care in this particular situation or that.
Remember when we were a child?
Friday night on the dance floor, I had the most exhilarating fun I’ve had dancing than what I’ve had in months, perhaps longer, and not a drop of alcohol was present. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so free to create my own fun in a room full of others. It seems so many of us are still trapped in our self-created containers. We don’t break out, we don’t let our full selves shine through.
A good way to know what we used to be like before we placed ourselves in glass Tupperware would be to think back to when we were a young child. When we were in a room alone, left to our toys and our imaginations, what did we used to do, imagine, play? I used to imagine being a ballerina and while I danced through the room knowing no one was watching, I would pretend I was graceful and elegant, but in reality I probably wasn’t. But when you are a young child, you are still oblivious to the criticism of others, the judging of your every move as you yourself had not yet learned to judge. When you are a young child, you get lost in your imagination, and that’s what comes out of our play. Our play develops our imagination, and our imagination develops our play.
Now imagine if we all reverted back to our 5 year old self, of play-times filled with the imaginings of being a pirate, a pretty ballerina, orTarzan swinging through the trees. We would swap roles, and play different parts. Sure we had our favorites, but generally we all had a try at different things. Now if we could all allow that imaginative playful spirit, the free from judgement and criticism self to shine more in our adult lives, how different would that subdued party be, that social dinner of exhaustive “fun”?
Being a Ballerina again
I felt that with all the inner work I have done over the years, I had pretty much peeled off most of those layers of unacceptance and believed in general that I don’t care what others think of me. So it came as a surprise to me Friday night on the dance floor at Spirit Dance, that I still dance the way others dance, I still move within reason, because that’s what everyone else seems to do. Not wanting to be the one at the center of attention, or drawing stares, I allow my rhythm to flow, and parts of my inner me to come out, the calm inner-ness, the inner-ness that is soft, fluid, and perhaps a little emotional, and that is about it.
It was something about the flow of music that night, the lack of a large crowd, and being in my own corner of the dance floor that pulled me into a deep trance, where I felt six years old again, I got lost in child-hood innocence and danced like a graceful ballerina once again while I tripped and stumbled in my awkwardness that being lost in the imagination brings. I swirled my hair around to experience what it would feel like and look like. I wiggled my tongue, I danced around on tippy-toes to see how tall I could dance. For the first time in years I felt like the child instead of the teacher. I remember dancing with my students back in Hong Kong, and how controlled I was. How I taught their creative little minds to follow a structure, a pattern, a rhythm, instead of dancing the freedom of the imagination. If only I had remembered then what it was like to be a young child, I may very well have let myself go and danced with my children quite differently.
After the dance was done, I felt that exhilaration, that I had had SO-MUCH-FUN! I wondered why getting lost in my 6 year old ballerina self was so much fun? I realized because for the first time ever on the dance floor, I forgot others were in the room, and so I let down the barrier and allowed my inner-self to come out and play. This showed me so clearly, as I looked through the window to myself that without realizing, I still did actually care what others think of me. And so I held myself back from the fun, and most of all, the exhilarating freedom of being my true self, which I believe I misplaced when I was a young girl. Because connecting with her again, I could see where she stopped her innocent play, and took a step back into a corner of my heart titled past history and went to sleep.
Now that I can see this other layer of myself through the window, I can reach out, I can invite it to step through the glass door and come back into my life again. But most of all, I can begin the healing process of removing the door to judgement, caring, and un-acceptance. I can allow the 6 year old self to grow, to explore, to experience, and to become me again.
Were you a ballerina, a pirate, or Tarzan?
When did you loose your young innocent imaginative child and become a serious grownup? I recommend going on a search for the little kid within you, go back to those games you played as a child, and allow your imagination to wake up, and start to play. I believe if you tried it, forget that others are in the room, or perhaps even connect when you are actually alone, you might have fun, and you might even learn a bit more about yourself too.
What have you done lately that created an exhilaratingly fun memory?
What games did you used to play as a child that really evoked your imagination?
How do you connect with your inner imaginative creative playful child?
Leave a comment below. I would love to hear your stories.