When I was at the ripe old age of seven, my favourite activities were: lip synching or singing with extreme zeal while "tap dancing" on the coffee table, in front of our full length family room windows. This activity then morphed into choreographing and performing for a video camera, during which my dad was held hostage as camera man. Sometimes, my little brothers were recruited (and coerced) as backup performers. Every star needs an entourage.
When I began to develop some self-consciousness, around the age of ten, my performances were reserved for my bedroom mirror only, behind closed doors. Really, I did this well into high school. And I admit that with some embarrassment. But, well, truth reigns supreme.
I decided that I wanted to maybe be a teacher one day, like my mom was, as well as an author and an actress.
Basically, I just wanted a stage and opportunities to enchant audiences. The acts of performing and writing were joys in and of themselves- I didn't think about what to write or say or sing. I just opened to whatever came through me. I didn't care if my audiences were family members who'd been obliged, or cars passing by, or my own reflection.
I didn't care if my dreams were "realistic," or if I had enough "talent," what other people thought, or if I would make enough money.
Back then, I was shameless, passionate, open, and truthful.
I have this theory that maybe, as a society, we've got this whole growing up thing wrong.
We're always trying to get something or become something. Layering, gaining, adding on for the purposes of blending in, all while saying only what we think the world around us wants to hear.
Like, for example, we learn to hush up and quiet down because the noise of emotions feels jarring.
Be seen, but not heard. Or, be seen and be heard- but only if it's charming, cute, intelligent, or what sounds good. And for god's sake, make sure you look good doing it.
I'm generalizing, of course. But it seems that the focus tends to be: tidy home, tidy clothes, tidy grades, tidy smiles, tidy behaviour, tidy interests. Tidy future. Untidy is unpredictable and, well, we can't have that... what would others think?
We teach kids- and engrain in ourselves- that gaining and achievement are what makes us valuable and happy. That it matters that we look good to others while we're at it. That the truth is only to be told if it's pretty.
And, for heaven's sake get it right the first time.
Post-secondary school now starts at, typically, the age of eighteen. That means that before a sizeable investment of money, time, resources, (and anxiety!) are poured into this venture, a kid needs to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life a couple of years beforehand, so as to be in the "correct" educational stream required for university or college.
And, for heaven's sake, get it right the first time.
The older I get, the more I am realizing that I actually had a clearer picture of how I wanted to be in the world before I was eight years old. Most of what came after was just a skewed, desperate, mistaken attempt to fit in, or hide from the risk of vulnerability, or be who I thought someone else wanted me to be.
Perhaps as kids, our dreams are more realistic than we think. Perhaps we don't have to let them go, or do something only because we see financial profit in it.
Maybe, as adults, our job is to strip down whatever we've built up or taken on since dreaming those childhood dreams.
Take the layers off. Be willing to stand out.
Feel the outrageous fear or preposterousness in that?! That's exciting right? Jarring, but exciting.
So this is what I have decided from here on out:
1) My creative life comes before a neat, tidy home, or tidy smiles. (I'll keep the tidy-ish clothes to the best of my ability because, well, no one wants to smell. I'm not promising to fold them before my average of six days though. Just can't).
2) Emotions are jarring, but in a necessary, cleansing, informative way. As such, I'm practicing feeling it all and communicating them kindly to the best of my wordy-passionate-dramatic ability.
3) I don't care if my creations are "realistic," I trust that if the Cosmos brought them through me, that is enough of a reason to let them out.
4) I just want to tell the truth and serve. I think that's what we all came here to do, I think that's our dharma. And we're closest to the truth when we're not impeded by worrying what everyone else thinks.
These days, I'm playing harmonium and singing again. (Guys-- this is big. I stopped singing lifetimes ago and convinced myself I wasn't musically inclined). I'm writing whatever comes through, even when it feels incredibly risky. I'm teaching, even when what I am teaching seems outside the box, and even when I don't have all of the answers. Don't like what I have to say, or my way of saying it? Ain't no thang. If my feelings are hurt, I'll see #2.
These days, I'm dreaming again. With no shame.
And I'm thinking as I grow up, I want to be a teacher, an author, and a singer/performer.