This is a 2,500 foot climb, over 3.7 miles, culminating at 5,400 feet – the face of a sheer cliff. Our 9, 7 and 5 year old were able to make the climb. As they reached the top of the mountain, filled with joy over the view, I thought to myself “they were able to do this simply because we let them”.
When my children were younger, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to send them to Morning Meadow, a local Waldorf-inspired school. They allow the children to help roll dough for baking bread, ground flour, water the garden, and a host of other nature-based activities. This opened up a new world for us. We realized the hand sanitizer, the overprotection, structured activities, plastic toys, t.v. and bribes with sugar is what we knew; but not very effective.
At first my ego resisted what I thought to be a back woods and archaic way of parenting. After all we live in the 21st century; where are the IPADS! I wanted them to start learning in the womb with cd’s that promised my children would read and talk sooner. Then something shifted deep in my soul. For what purpose must my children be smarter, faster, and have a ‘competitive edge’? What did I think they would be competing for? What life was I planning for them?
Now, most of their toys are wooden and used. There are exceptions of course. Our middle Princess loves her American Girl doll. Our son loves his dragons and castles. Our Oldest loves her first ever electronic device; IPOD. For the most part there are no ‘characters’, because the school helped me understand that children left to their own imagination of what a super hero is are far more creative than Disney. The point is to create balance. To be mindful of what we are unconsciously exposing them to. The results are our children are able to entertain themselves for hours with their own inner characters. How else does this translate into their own life and mine?
This taught me to be aware of the inner prescripts I was unconsciously following in my own life. Assessments like what makes a person “worthy”. You go to college, get married, have children, have a career, are wildly successful and you do it all perfectly; as a size 4. Oh yes and you live happily ever after. What happens when we fall short of those ideals or worse hit the mark on all counts and discover we are still unhappy?
When I was 19 I attended a FORUM workshop. The speaker said 50/50 marriages are unrealistic fantasies! Sometimes it’s 100% – ZERO. You have to give it everything you’ve got to keep it going when the other person may not have anything left to give. She said if you marry your husband because he has money and hair, what happens to the marriage if he loses both? Those who know us well can insert all sorts of jokes here!
She inspired a shift in my prescripts. I stopped looking for someone that would “complete me, make me happy, rescue me, or thrill me”. Instead I wrote down all the qualities I admired in others and then started to work on being those qualities. My ego’s list of demands became secondary. The most important thing for me was to be with someone with a sense of humor, a good father, loyal and committed to spiritual evolution and personal growth. We have come to some of that growth kicking and screaming amongst a wake of misplaced ideas and mistakes. We are committed to the process.
Is it possible we were not taught or forgot how to use our imagination? Do we UNCONSCIOUSLY follow prescripts? What if we could imagine breaking free from our own internal ‘assessments’? What if we stopped living so much of our life based on what we think, and others think, about us? What if we gave ourselves permission to break away from what is expected? What if we question those pre-set formulas we thought would make us happy, but upon close inspection have kept us stuck in our own internal unhappy dialogue?
We can climb most mountains if we just give ourselves permission to. If we can just imagine what joy may feel like and commit fully to having it in our life. So what did my children teach me through their own creative play? How to be emotionally creative, to focus on “connection” to nature, to each other, to the joy of just being. To basking in the sun on the side of a cliff.