The Sandbox

Photo by Peter Steele on

There is a certain irony in life.  We come into the world completely open and willing to play.  We are wired for it instantly and we rarely miss an opportunity to play.  Our parents, friends, family, everyone around us encourages us as we learn to walk, learn spatial reasoning, express ourselves, show creativity.  That is pretty much the story for the first five years of our lives.  Then abruptly, that world is taken away from us.  We are forced into school where we are told exactly what to think, what creativity is, what is valued, and what answers to give.  We aren’t taught critical or expansive thought and our creativity is diminished to an allotted time.  We are judged by our ability to respond and articulate/regurgitate information over our ability to produce original content—and the original content is subjective. 

As we get older, we feel the loss of something that we aren’t able to put our fingers on.  We enter the workforce, we create an image.  We show the world what they want to see or face some level of ostracism.  More often we present a façade out of fear we won’t be accepted as we are, so we step further and further from ourselves and the feeling of loss grows.  The loss is the loss of who we are at our core.  From childhood we know something is missing.  We KNOW that what we are told to do isn’t fully aligned with who we are.  We inherently know the value in play, in creativity, in the life we feel running through our veins and we fear the loss of that life as we are indoctrinated into a system that tells us the opposite of what we know is right—as that life is squeezed out of us.

The key is to reintroduce the joy into our lives.  Bring back the good—the things that feel good included.  Life is so much simpler than we make it.  The competition and drive of the ego gets in the way and makes us feel less than so we prove our worth (or for others, more than so they spend a lifetime proving their greatness, protecting imaginary power).  Life is about love and joy and light and doing what is good.  If we want to make things better, we simply need to get back to what we know.  Imagine something different.  And yes, I know it’s easier said than done.  I know it’s possible, though.  I know because when I introduce more of what feels good into my life, it feels better. While it may seem cliché or corny, it’s as simple as that.  When I feel better I can do better because I’m clear.  The answers come easier, and there are more options.

The value to the sandbox is it allows us space to experiment.  It isn’t permanent, it’s a place to learn in the unconventional sense.  Play gives us what we need to connect with the parts of us we lost, the parts we were taught to ignore and devalue as unimportant.  We can give ourselves a chance to practice at what works for us.  While we can’t literally turn back the clock, we can give ourselves a new opportunity to think, to try again at any time.  We can lower the stakes to make it easier to change course if we need to.  When we find the pieces that fit together, the picture becomes clear so it makes sense.  Changing direction doesn’t need to be scary, it just has to be about hearing our inner voice and taking action.  Find what works, and when that all makes sense, allow it to unfold.  It’s the most freeing feeling in the world to find yourself. 

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