“Life is a flux, a flowing into the future, not a stoppage or a backwash. It is therefore not surprising that so many of the mythological saviours are child gods.”
~ Carl Jung
Last year at about this time of year, I was readjusting to life in the United States.
All in all, I was trying to adjust to “adult life” again. I came back from Thailand covered in blisters and rashes (you can see them in the picture above), 15 pounds lighter than I had been before I left, and utterly confused.
But the confusion wasn’t onset by my efforts to make new friends in a new town, to start a new relationship or even to go back to academic life after nearly a year of being absent.
My confusion came from being ashamed of having so much.
For me, spending intimate time with people and animals in a rural third world village was a symbol of my inner child. But mostly, playing with the kids over there made me think about the importance of the child within all of us.
If you read anything written by Carl Jung, you know what I am talking about.
From The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious:
‘”Child” means something evolving toward independence. This it cannot do without detaching itself from its origins: abandonment is therefore a necessary condition, not just a concomitant symptom. The conflict is not to be overcome by the conscious mind remaining caught between the opposites, and for this very reason it needs a symbol to point out the necessity of detaching itself from its origins.”
From CG Jung himself…we have to detach ourselves from our origins in order to understand what trajectory we are travel from childhood to adulthood. But if we have forgotten what it is like to feel new, carefree and exploratory—as a child is—then we have no springboard to jump from.
I don’t know what kind of kid you were, but I was the weirdo in Dr. Martens and leggings who sat in the backyard and talked to praying mantises and ladybugs all day. Made flower crowns. Ate Fun Dip and Goldfish. My first CD was Britney Spears and I watched Baywatch all the time. All my journals were about butterflies and fish and ballet.
The thing is, I am still a weirdo who does all those things. I may–for the first time in my life–disagree with Jung and say that we always need to remain in contact with who we were as children. We don’t need to detach ourselves from our origins, and quite frankly, that would be an impossible thing to do. Our inner child is our most pure self.
I started to realize that the kids I met in Thailand (in the picture) didn’t realize they lived in a third world country. They played and they were happy. They ate popsicles and candy and they loved their mom and dad.
We fight with each other because of our own feelings of jealousy and inadequacy. On an average day, we typically come home from our work (which we probably don’t enjoy doing) and we drink a beer or a glass of wine so we can relax and decompress from our day of [compressing] sitting in a chair or dealing with people we wouldn’t naturally talk to.
Let’s liven it up, folks! Let’s have some fun and remember what it was like to view the world through the lens of a child. We’re all just adult children…constantly scared of abandonment, constantly seeking a partner who loves us like our parents did, and always looking for fun and excitement but feeling guilty because we have “adult things” to be doing instead.
“I need to go to yoga and the gym so I can work off the fried calamari I ate at lunch with my boyfriend yesterday. Tonight, I can’t go out because I need to get home so I can write in my planner and drink a shot of whiskey to escape the terrors of the day I had at the office. And to round off my day, I need to clean my room and check to see how much money I have in my bank account.”
Said no kid ever.
I’m not saying we all need to quit working out and eating healthy foods. I’m not saying we should all quit our jobs or pursue a career in elementary education in order to get in touch with our inner children (or in order to be closer to children…creepy!).
I’m not saying that you should wear leggings and fleece vests or put your hair in pigtails and shove Cheetos in your pockets.
We need to remember the way we felt when we did all of those things…and be an adult with a childlike outlook. Remember what mattered to us as kids; chances are, we all still have some of the same goals! If you wanted to be an astronaut (or in my case, a U.S. postal worker), then you should probably start working on that goal. Just remember to have fun while doing it.
Go buy an ice cream cone. Put glow in the dark stars on your ceiling. Or get one of these rad contraptions from the 90s:
Your inner child is lost, she is rad, and she needs you to go look for her right now.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of author