I just spent a week "playing" in Santa Fe with family and friends. We climbed desert slopes, ate dessert in the late afternoon, danced Flamenco, inhaled sage-tinged air and laughed — a lot.
When I was initially planning out my trip, I thought that all I would need to reclaim myself was an airplane ticket and a far-flung destination.
But, as soon as my flight landed, I began thwarting my renewal process by checking my emails and texts; worrying, as always, about my kids, mother, friends and work and reading the latest news headlines.
Look to Childhood Cues to Replenish Yourself
Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to recognize that I’d have to let go of these habits to truly recharge. I realized I'd have to reconnect with my more lighthearted, freewheeling childhood self and focus on the delight that comes from encountering new places, experiences, people, information and ideas.
(MORE: 3 Easy Ways to Whip Your Brain Into Shape)
The Insightful Views of Notable Writers
Many great writers have considered what it means to be a grown-up who keeps growing and agree that connecting with your inner child is key. I’ve gathered 11 of their insightful quotes below (using Good Reads as a source).
If someone you know thinks maturity means abandoning playfulness, curiosity and experimentation; equates adulthood with burden and depletion or believes that success and fun can’t go hand in hand, please send them this list.
1. “Every once in a while time dissolves and you remember what you liked as a kid. You jump on your hotel bed, order dessert first, decide to put every piece of jewelry you own on your body and leave the house. Why? Because you can. Because you're the boss. Because … Ooooh. Shiny. ”
— Sloane Crosley, How Did You Get This Number
2. “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
3. “The whole time I pretend I have mental telepathy. And with my mind only, I’ll say — or think? — to the target, 'Don’t do it. Don’t go to that job you hate. Do something you love today. Ride a roller coaster. Swim in the ocean naked. Go to the airport and get on the next flight to anywhere just for the fun of it. Maybe stop a spinning globe with your finger and then plan a trip to that very spot; even if it’s in the middle of the ocean you can go by boat. Eat some type of ethnic food you’ve never even heard of. Stop a stranger and ask her to explain her greatest fears and her secret hopes and aspirations in detail and then tell her you care because she is a human being. Sit down on the sidewalk and make pictures with colorful chalk. Close your eyes and try to see the world with your nose — allow smells to be your vision. Catch up on your sleep. Call an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Roll up your pant legs and walk into the sea. See a foreign film. Feed squirrels. Do anything! Something! Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with each breath you take. Just don’t go back to that miserable place you go every day. Show me it’s possible to be an adult and also be happy. Please.”
— Matthew Quick, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
4. “Children are the closest we have to wisdom and they become adults the moment that final drop of everything mysterious is strained from them.”
— Simon Van Booy, Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories
5. “To both the racist and the puritan, childhood is not a time of life that we grow out of, as the life of the child grows out of the life of the parent or as a plant grows out of the soil, but a time and state of consciousness to be left behind, to cut oneself off from … The child may be joyous, the man must be sober and self-denying; the child may be free, the man is to be "responsible"; the child may be candid in his feelings, the man must be polite, restrained, mindful of the demands of convention; the child may be playful, the man must be industrious. I am not necessarily objecting to the manly virtues, but I am objecting that they should be so exclusively assigned to grownups, and that grownups should be so exclusively restricted to them. A man may have all the prescribed adult virtues and, if he lacks the childhood virtues, still be a dunce and a bore and a liar.”
— Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound
(MORE: Ageless Inspiration: Mister Rogers on Music and Lifelong Learning)
6. “Children take joy in their work and sometimes as adults we forget that's something we should continue doing.”
— Ashley Ormon, God in Your Morning
7. “When you are born, the golem said softly, your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. . . . Most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make them paladins once more, bold knights and true.”
— Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
8. “Don't you find it odd," she continued, "that when you're a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you're older, somehow they act offended if you even try.”
— Ethan Hawke, The Hottest State
9. “I don’t want to be little again. But at the same time I do. I want to be me like I was then and me as I am now and me like I’ll be in the future. I want to be me and nothing but me. I want to be crazy as the moon, wild as the wind and still as the earth. I want to be every single thing it’s possible to be.”
— David Almond, Jackdaw Summer
10. “They soon stopped being 10 years old. But whatever age they were seemed to be exactly the right age for having fun.”
— Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
11. “The modern view seems to me to involve a false conception of growth. They accuse us of arrested development because we have not lost a taste we had in childhood. But surely arrested development consists not in refusing to lose old things but in failing to add new things? . . . Where I formerly had one pleasure, I now have two.”
— C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature