When was the last time you allowed yourself a go on a swing? When did you allow yourself jump to your kitchen dance-floor and let yourself have a good old, spontaneous bop when a favorite song comes on the radio? I’m guessing, if you’re under 10, the answer is… whenever I feel like it! Toddlers and youngsters are so intensely in the moment. They dance in their unique way to whatever music grabs them, sometimes to imagined tunes! Little ones sing along to nursery tunes and the dreaded (by adults) “Frozen” music without censoring themselves or wondering what the rest of us think of them. Out of tune, caterwauling, glorious sound, vibrating through them, expelling stuck energy, welcoming joy without knowing it.
We ‘adults’ like to think we have some autonomy in our lives. We see ourselves as ‘free-thinkers’, living our lives by our own light and yet so much of the time we’re constrained by social convention. That can be a good thing. It’s useful to know what is considered acceptable and appropriate in a given society, especially now that we are travelling to all corners of the earth, we need to know what behaviors that are normal in Ireland, might land us in prison or worse, in another country.
Not spitting on a public street was a convention of the 50’s, indeed, it incurred a large fine, during the TB epidemic. That made sense, an attempt to contain the almost uncontainable, a killer disease that wiped out extended families. A ‘goodie’ convention.
Traditionally, Chinese people on greeting one another did not touch, not because they are not warm people but because historically, they have a spiritual and health history for not touching. Epidemics were so rampant in China that it was essential to keep distance, keep your hands from becoming contaminated by killer germs. So now, Irish business people who meet Chinese delegations here or visit China on business pay big money to learn how to ‘read’ the culture and observe etiquette. It makes sense. Good business.
Social convention is useful IF it serves us, but WHO SAYS we have to stop playing when childhood ends? We are pretty hung up on “what’ll they think”. We give our power and our pleasure away to the all powerful “they”. Who are “they” anyway. Mostly people we’ll never meet more than once!
WHO decided that “Adult Coloring” books should carry the work “Adult” in the title? I’ve got to admit when I first heard the term (that’s now become ubiquitous!), I thought it was like “Adult” movies.... naughty pictures to colour in the privacy of your own bedroom. A colouring book is a colouring book. Twenty years ago, before it was popular or profitable, a Psycho-therapist told me to just colour, learn how to play again. I got a book with fairies and a box of crayons and that cheap book carried me through some hard times, occasionally therapeutic, mostly providing fun. Now, it’s a trend, to colour. It may be viewed as a bit “New Agey” by ‘them’ and it is certainly big business but just try it, if you’re curious and see what happens.
And WHO SAYS men don’t knit? Knitting has seen a revival in the Western world. It’s always been popular in Ireland but pretty much the domain of grannies and children. Hollywood celebrities jumping on the bandwagon changed the image and made it desirable for young women and even men to do. Stars like Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe wear their knitting skills like a badge of honour! It counters depression, is creative and there’s something to show for it. Aran sweaters, famous world-wide were traditionally knit by men! So who dictates that a man wouldn’t produce knitting on a train! Only women knit convention? A baddie!
Who says only children play on swings? This has got to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. That feeling of absolute freedom as your feet leave the ground and you’re in the air and feeling like a bird…there’s nothing quite like it! For stressed out C.E.O’s and beleaguered bankers and politicians, I’d highly recommend a good swinging session…no, not one involving keys and partners…..the old-fashioned kind that brings you back to care-free childhood days and literally lifts mood as it lifts the body. I have an image of the TD’s pushing each other out of the way to get to the Dail playground! An RTE documentary on a Poor Clare order in Dublin revealed one of the nuns greatest pleasures was the swing in their convent garden. We were treated to the wonderful image of an elderly nun in her full robe and veil, being pushed by one of her sisters and having an absolute ball! Her face showed sheer delight and she was totally in the moment. I lose no opportunity to hop on a swing. I did so at a beach in LA, feeling initially a little awkward….then realizing that the Americans didn’t bat an eyelid. They were at the beach to play and other adults joined me. It was exhilarating.
The beach is probably the only place most of us really let our hair down and let ourselves enjoy without censure. It’s a pure joy to see grown men and women, normally sullen teenagers, children and grandparents getting down and sandy; playing ballgames, throwing frisbees, jumping over waves. The beach is a great leveler and it’s we just drop the conventional rules and anything goes!
So, this week, give yourself a break. Take away “what’ll they think”! Do something that ‘they’ may not quite approve of. See how much lighter you feel. How much younger. How much happier! LIVE!