March 13, 2016

Return to Childhood

There are different types of laughter. Some aren't pleasant: forced laughter in a social situation or unkind laughter at another's expense. But then there's genuine, gleeful laughter that awakens and heals us. The kind of laughter that takes us by surprise; that allows us to open our hearts and let go.

We often protect the childlike parts of us: awe, silliness, wonder, and play. We don't want to seem naive or unintelligent; we don't want to appear Pollyanna-ish. Our habits—and our culture—tell us to get the job done, gain respect, look smart, be serious. All of this is appropriate in measured doses. But it's not how I want to spend this one precious life. Right now, I feel weighty issues. My mom died six months ago. My close friend has incurable Stage 4 cancer. This is serious business. And still, I need to let myself laugh; to let myself be surprised and grateful.

So my radical suggestion is this: return to childhood. Color with crayons. Be amazed. Giggle for no good reason. Ask questions. Do cartwheels or somersaults. Get curious about the natural world. Be honest. Laugh and cry, whenever you need to. Keep your heart wide open.

These childlike qualities are what give me hope for this crazy and beautiful world. Because they allow us to see in new ways. They allow us to be fully present. They allow us to move through life with honest and open hearts.
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  1. Your laughter is beautiful- so much like your mom's. Your spirit, too. Yes, children laugh with abandon and they also cry freely. They experience life as it comes, the good and the difficult. They are wonderful teachers!

  2. This is so true Joy, and still so hard to manage. I so much agree with you. We need to find that vulnerability in us all over again. Yet it's so hard. I hope growing a little boy (he is five weeks today) will help me see things in a child's view. Lots of hugs! Agnes

  3. Yes - so very, very true, Joy. Thank you for letting yourself laugh and experience Joy in the midst of *life*.

  4. So true. We can learn so much from children. Life is constantly changing, and sometimes when these changes are hard, I stop myself from laughing, when in reality, allowing myself some laughter might help me get through hard times a bit easier.

  5. Thanks, all, for your thoughtful comments. This post is still on my mind and in my heart. It's really an awakening to all of life: when joy comes, FEEL the laughter; when sadness comes, FEEL the tears. Make room for it all. Hugs to you all!