On my desk, nestled amongst items of great joy – crystals, candles, a beautifully decorated matchbook – is a photograph of myself at age three or so.
I’m dressed as a clown for Halloween – nothing fancy, just some striped pajamas, red rubber boots, two rosy cheeks, a red painted mouth and nose, and a few drawn eyelashes for effect.
The photo captures me looking off to the right, probably at my mother, with my two hands outstretched, palms up, in an all lightness-no worry gesture that says, Hey look at me aren’t I so cute, aren’t I so loveable? This is fun, what’s next?
As an adult, I look at her often. Sometimes I’m here to tell her she’s safe, other times I ask her advice.
Little Ash, what would you do in this situation? How would you look at it? What would you see?
And the most important question of all, How would you make it playful? Where would you find the levity?
See children, naturally, are trusting tricksters, bearers of lightness and mirth. They’re excellent problem solvers, and solution finders. They’re determined and creative.
They’re a marvel to be around, and until they hear the words no, can’t, shouldn’t, how could you, fail, they wander the world in wonder, awe, and a continued state of discovery and learning.
It’s transfixing, isn’t it?
Now imagine a single issue you’ve recently experienced, how would you be different if you’d intentionally incorporated that playfulness, that sense of wonder, that inexhaustible drive towards learning, trying, and discovery without donating a scrap of energy to fearing for the outcome?
How would your life change if you folded it into all that you do?
99.99% of our lives are spent en route to milestones – on the way, on the road. The milestones are markers, sure, they’re guideposts if you view them that way, but they’re transitional.
They last but a fraction of a moment.
Our intentions guide us, but they’re not the point. The point is the experiences you collect along the way, and who you are within those experiences.
Which is why, especially when something uncomfortable-making surfaces, I ask little Ash, Hey kid with the painted face and bright smile, how would you handle this?
What would you do?
Usually she’d throw her arms around someone she loved when she saw they were happy. She’d bubble over with excitement alongside the excited people around her. She’d be quiet and curious, wondering How did you do that? I’m going to figure it out too! She’d laugh and giggle and find the next thing to explore or create.
She would never, ever, feel sorry for herself. There’s simply too much interesting life to uncover.
I’m beginning to know for sure that when my brain and her buoyancy come together, we live a spectacularly blessed life.
So I’ll ask you, is there a piece of yourself you don’t let into the conversation? Is there a buoyant being pulsing with light and life that you don’t invite into the command center?
What might happen if you did?