Each year that goes by, I reflect and ponder about this wacky phenomenon of getting older.
I welcome the knowledge and insights that aging brings, but I have always rejected the notion that we have to lose our innate magic as we grow up. I still want to hear Santa’s bell at Christmas time, remember Narnia and find my way to Neverland.
So I’m pleased to share that I realized something recently that I have never heard anyone else talk about – nor have I ever read it in a book or blog post.
The realization is this: that as you gain each consecutive year of life and age – because what is aging but living? – you don’t give up the prior ages of yourself. They all still exist within you.
In other words, yes, I happen to be 50… but I’m also simultaneously 25, 18 and 6. All earlier versions of me are still here, it’s just that 50 year old me is currently in the driver’s seat.
This might not sound like such a novel theory, except for the fact that few of us actually live this way.
In general, in American culture and society, there’s a constant push to get more done faster, earlier and sooner. There’s a constant drive to be older, smarter, wealthier, more advanced and successful in one’s career, more sophisticated, more mature and more refined.
That mindset doesn’t allow room for my notion that, even as we’re getting older and wiser, the prior and younger iterations of ourself are still alive and well inside of us.
This all became very clear to me this year thanks to a deep dive into Internal Family Systems therapy or “parts” therapy. While my theory that all our prior incarnations are still alive and well inside us isn’t exactly the same as what is practiced in IFS or parts therapy, they are what informed my thinking.
Maybe this is why we have art and dreams… to inspire, evoke and recapture the younger versions of ourselves and invite them to come out of hiding and play.
Do you need proof that younger you is still alive and well inside of current-age you? Consider the following:
- In many cases, we still like and love to do the things we liked and loved to do in childhood, if we will only let ourselves
- Often, we also still love to eat and drink the things we enjoyed in childhood – but again, only if we give ourselves permission to do so
This is one of the true joys of parenting small children: you get to remember and rediscover things you loved in childhood, then fall in love with them all over again through the eyes of your beloved child.
In some ways, parents are at an advantage because we have an excuse and reason to play. Then again, folks without kids have more time to play all they want without ever needing to be the grownups and “bad guys.”
Whether we have kids or not, all adults have a proven need for play. If we would only let ourselves play more, we might see for ourselves that our younger selves are still right here inside of us.
Even before parts therapy, I always prided myself on being pretty tapped in to my inner child. I consciously and mindfully let her play, eat candy and pretty desserts, collect colorful pens and stickers, and do lots of other things that I enjoyed as a child and young person.
Maybe that’s why I’m still good at spotting everyday magic?
Of course, life can’t be one big inner child rumspringa or we would never get anything done or be able to function like productive adults. I’m simply saying that in addition to working hard and leading a good life, we should also permit ourselves to laugh, play and have fun like the younger versions of us still undoubtedly want to do.
Have I convinced you yet? Do you believe my theory that all the younger versions of ourselves are still alive and well, tucked away inside our adult bodies and minds?
I’d love to hear your views in the comments below or over on Facebook. And while you’re at it, tell me the last time you let your inner child out to play!