There is something we once knew—we lived it, breathed it, dreamed it and experienced every damn day of our lives until we forgot it. It’s this:
We are genies.
Yep me, you and every other brother and sister out there.
Many years ago when I was seeking—seeking that thing I knew I had inside of me but lost somewhere along the way—I was given some wisdom. At the time I didn’t quite get it, it just sat in my mind like a fog that felt familiar in a blurry sort of buzzing way.
But that little pearl planted itself in my mind’s eye, only to be revealed clearly when the time was right.
Well, last week that time was just right—I was watching Peter Pan with my 4 year old daughter, a story my siblings and I loved so much as children, we created a theater company with the befitting title, Magical Theater, just to put on that play. My dad built us a stage in the basement, we hung curtains and designed sets. In fact, we spent our whole summer running rehearsals with the neighborhood children. Peter Pan had a three week run to sold out audiences of adoring family members, neighbors and even some local news media fans. (Hey, we were small scale but pretty profesh!)
Magical Theater was one of my fondest memories as a child. It was here my siblings and I lived the secret—the secret that isn’t a secret—just the thing that is dusty and rusty and unused for a lot of us.
That secret is: imagination.
On a sweltering summer day 15 years ago my father, youngest sister and I met with a psychic medium to help us communicate with my sister, Rebecca, who died suddenly about 7 months prior. I remember looking around the old Victorian living room cluttered with antiques and smelling of incense, feeling a bit skeptical and vulnerable, wondering just how I ended up at this woman’s house and expected her to communicate with my dead-to-this-world sister.
I don’t remember anything she told us about my sister. In fact, I only remember one thing she said—and it was this:
Imagination means I am a genie! And she emphasized the genie metaphor.
Other than the overwhelming vision of a big blue guy popping out of a magic lamp that kept popping into my mind’s eye, I kept seeing the word creator.
I got the message from her that I needed.
In my own words the message was this: Embrace your happy inner-child.
Happy children don’t have limits or boundaries in their imaginations, they are creators of their own magical world.
So here’s the sad part: We are all genies—creators, magic makers, players in our own imaginary world—but most of us were told to put that power to rest early on in our schooling years. Most of us were told to stop imagining and start getting serious. We were told to study, to find sensible life paths and plan for our future and work hard. Well, most of us were.
I was recently hit by an epiphany as I started to re-use my imagination, the result of my heart joining forces with my mind which happens every so often when I let it. It may sound simple but this realization hit me like a ton of bricks: I have a choice—I always have a choice about whether my mind or heart runs the show!
And, when, like a 4 year old, I allow myself to look at life as a big (pardon the vulgarity, but I need to make a point here) f*cking playground, then I remember the meaning of life.
I feel like a fool. I mean, I’ve known and yet I’ve strayed. I’ve lived the magic and yet I’ve walked away from it.
Perhaps you have too.
Well, guess what dear magic, that is this mystical, magical, abundant, profound and inexplicable Life: I’m back!
I’m back in full-force and I’m ready to take you and dance with you until my tired muscles and bones need rest. And then, I will rest.
And, when I’m done, I’m going to dance and sing and paint with you some more. And I will continue until you tell me to stop, until you tell me that my time with you is done, or that you are done with me.
We don’t need Peter Pan to pop onto our window sill to remind us of our powers. We have them—right here, right now.
A child can wipe a slate clean in a way that no adult can. They can kick and cry and scream in one moment and then, in the next moment, be done with it and be ready to play, create and enjoy. As adults we look at this with bewilderment. I say many times after my daughter’s tantrums, “How can she just let that go so easily?”
I find myself so wound up from watching her meltdown, that it takes me many, many moments (well, okay; hours) to bring myself back into a more relaxed state. As I attempt to deep breathe and get off that “oh god she’s freaking out wagon”, she is playing contentedly with something and humming to herself—feeling completely free.
And you know what, we are always free: free to choose a different game or mood or desire.
As adults, I admit we have it hard. We hold onto sh*t too much. We stew. We grumble. We persevere.
And what are those grumpy thoughts and feelings about? If we really look deeply at them, do we really know? Is it some really old grudge we were holding onto that is maybe stale and moldy now and should be thrown out? Do you think it’s time to let that gunk go?
Can we, as a greater whole, maybe start forgiving and getting out of this dark, twisted, “oh this is such a bad world with so many bad things in it” mindset and wake up our imaginations again?
Want a better world? Let’s take ourselves back to preschool and remember what we learned:
1. Sharing is caring: Thank you Care Bears for this cute blanket statement. I find myself saying it to my daughter all the time (and sometimes she says it to me). This world contains a “we”. We are the world. Every little action matters. See a plastic bag the the ground? Pick it up. Recycle it. Someone has their hands full in front of you at the door? Run ahead and open it for them. Caring is really not that hard and when we start to look at our fellow humans as playmates in a big playground, we feel a lot lighter, a lot more connected, and a ton more open-hearted.
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated: Duh! Come on guys and gals, do any of us want to be stomped on by words? Hit by hands? Ignored by passive-aggressive dismissal? I am guessing no one will say yes to any of these questions. And we teach our children (at least I can vouch for this) as little tikes to not do these things. So, how do you wanted to be treated? They say you can tell how someone treats others by how they treat themselves. But if it’s too hard to look in right now, send that love out. Send it out and it will come back to you tenfold.
3. Pick Up Your Own Messes: This goes not only for physical messes, but also emotional ones. We often
get so overwhelmed with our own problems that we dump them on others. We project our crap out into the world and sometimes even blame others for our stuff. What do we teach children to do? Speak how they feel, own it and if it hurts others, apologize and move on. Let’s try to do this to—let’s own our sh*t. Owning it takes courage, the kind of courage we teach our 4 year olds to have. Let’s join forces with those little tikes and start owning our stuff.
4. It’s All About Play: This is by far the most important preschool fact to remember and keep remembering. This is that fact that reminds us that we are genies. And if you doubt this because in your suit and tie you feel very non-genie-like, then try to shift your thinking for a day. When we play, we feel excited, appreciative, open-hearted and inventive. When we play we tap into the reservoir that is our imagination— which, in essence, is our authentic nature.
Here’s a challenge for all the readers:
Try to look at life as a child would for just one day—as if a little fairy dust was sprinkled over your view of life. See if you can see things in a new light. For a child who is open and excited, each moment is new and alive. And this what enlightenment is. To be enlightened is not to be on some lofty pedestal away from everything. To realize the meaning of life is to see it with real eyes, and to realize:
You have always had clear vision, you just lost it somewhere between birth and where you are now. But that fairy dust is there for you right now.
Do you want to try it?
Come on, it’s good stuff.
You can start by closing your eyes and imagining you are yourself as a child, at a time when you were really happy. If you can’t go there, imagine a child in your life now that exudes this light-filled, wide-eyed openness. Embrace the feeling of this child— in your physical body, and also your heart. Then, open your eyes and go about your day. Come back to that image or feeling as many times as you need to to “reset” your mindset.
You may love it so much you can’t stop! And it may— just may become your natural state.
Remember, it’s nothing new. Most of us lived this the 1st five years or so of our lives!
If you do it, report back to me. I’d love to get comments on how it went for you! And if you have any other secrets from childhood that lead to your happy life, please comment with those as well. Together, we can fly!
Author: Sarah Lamb
Editor: Erin Lawson
Image: Author’s Own