When my daughter was younger, she watched a show set in Ireland called “Jakers.” One of the episodes I loved was about a girl who loved to dance. She wasn’t good at it, but she loved to dance… and so dance she did. Full of life and passion and delight – this character danced regardless of the opinions of those around her. She danced.
This was, at one point, my daughter. She danced for the pure love of dancing. At some point the feelings and opinions of others started nibbling at the fringes of her awareness. Would she “fit in” better if she played soccer and gave up dancing? Why put her effort into it if no one appreciated her work or recognized her improvement? And why do those other dancers stare? At some point she started focusing on the external validation or appreciation; her attention was no longer the love of dancing but the views of others.
Perhaps this is human and to be expected?
Perhaps we each go through the phases, some arriving at the other side with the full understanding that external validation is fickle and shallow while throwing ourselves into what we love and doing it for ourselves is where the beauty lies? How often do we give up what we love in search of that “fitting in” or the external validation?
Reading what others write and having spoken to people from various walks of life, it seems that the majority of us have lost sight of what we love doing for various reasons. Many adults seem to have misplaced that list of things that filled their hearts with joy when they were younger – and kids around here aren’t really given the chance to find passions of their own which doesn’t seem to bode well for future adults. Still others are entering their middle ages ready to embrace their passions – adding to their lives those things that they left behind years ago – or finding new passions and delights.
I consider who I am today, do I fill my life with activities that I love? Did I give up anything to “fit in” or for the desire to find external validation or praise? And is this a phase that we each go through at different times as I know that I am the best parent I can be and yet… I have wanted the external appreciation and recognition of others; not needing to hear it but wanting that for myself. However, it didn’t come and I moved on continuing to be the best I could be and doing it because I love it.
As I talked to my daughter, and as I type this, it occurs to me that the challenge might not be in realizing that filling our lives with the things we love doing – and doing them for ourselves – is desirable and healthy and fulfilling and a part of personal integrity… The challenge might be in recognizing this at a heart level such that we can let go of the desire for “fitting in” or external recognition and validation. It is in taking that leap off the cliff and just dancing and singing and playing and writing with every part of the heart and little awareness, if any, as to the opinions of others... and no desire to know what they are thinking or who is looking!
Perhaps it is all about closing your eyes, hearing the music, and letting go!