Currently, I work with adults with developmental disabilities, work which has transformed my life for the better. Before I started my job I had a completely different outlook on life. Like so many adults I had given up on my childhood. I had moved past that period of my life because that is what I thought the world was telling me to do. I was thrust into the world of hard responsibility and it turns out that I was lousy at it. I was depressed, unhealthy and I saw myself as a complete failure.
Truthfully, I failed because I was trying to live a life that I couldn’t navigate. It was a life that did not suit who I was. I had started seeing the world as if everything were black and white. I had lost the color that makes a life exhilarating, I had lost my inner child, I had lost sight of the adult that I had wanted to be and more importantly I had lost myself. I think what most adults don’t realize is that even though you’re thirty or older you can still believe in magic at any age. Just because you’re an adult it does not mean that the world isn’t still full of spectacular things that will astound you.
Children, of course are brand new and shiny. They have not yet experienced all that life has to offer. They are seeing everything for the first time and their eyes still sparkle with wonderment. They haven’t been tarnished like us adults who are exhausted and weighed down with responsibilities and reality and a guilty conscience that we aren’t working hard enough.
Society as a whole may feel pity or guilt when looking at my clients and they may even see people who are debilitated or broken somehow. They see disappointment, shame or heartbreak and even though that may be partially true, there is so much more than meets the eye. While they are blinded by the negative they neglect to see all the good that is associated with my client’s lifestyles, or maybe, more importantly their outlooks on life.
They are adults who haven’t yet grown out of childhood and in all likelihood they never will. They aren’t tainted by all the things that cause us stress every day. They of course have huge hurdles to overcome and believe me when I tell you their hurdles are far higher and closer together than yours. But at the end of the day their heads are far less heavy on their pillows at night in comparison to ours.
Don’t get me wrong, they are not without responsibility but they have the ability to accomplish their goals and still take the time to find pleasure in everything that they do. And I mean EVERYTHING. They see the world in a way that I once thought was impossible for me, in a way I hope to again. Their routines do not cause them constant worry or strife. They take pride in their everyday accomplishments and they strive for another day, they literally go to bed every night hopeful for tomorrow. How many “higher functioning” adults can say the same?
Under their tutelage I’ve become more aware of the fact that you don’t have to stop being who you are just because you’ve reached adulthood, you can choose to grow up but still take that child along with you. Life goes by fast enough without helping it to do so. You may as well hold onto the magic as long as you can.
Life’s burden is a heavy load. It’s not easy to keep the complexity straight and there are days that you feel like you’re going to crack in half. On those days you see fiction and magic as absurdity and a waste of time. I get it, I’ve been there and I definitely have those days still. But then I ask myself what am I working for? Why move forward if I can’t allow myself the time to be impractical every now and again? What makes life worth living if you are endlessly unhappy? Why not take a moment to find something positive in your mundane routine? Such as stability or fulfillment or dependability or whatever it may be for each individual that brings you a sense of calm.
Ask yourself those questions every time you think you don’t have the time to slow down. Try to remember how things made you feel when you were a child. The joy you felt at mastering something for the first time or the excitement you felt when you discovered something new.
So go. Go find something that you’re passionate about, develop a hobby or experiment with a community class, go back to school or join a bowling league. If you haven’t already, somehow find a way to reunite with your inner child and I guarantee you, something magical will happen.