As I prepared to hit the waves for my weekly happy hour dip, I stood with my toes in the sand, glancing out at several kiddos all under the age of 8. I decided to go in the ocean with my boogie board and join in on the fun (full wetsuit of course because I’m a cold water wimp). Despite the 30 some odd age difference, these little ones accepted me into their self-created aquatic playground- no judgments or second glances. Their laughter and screams of excitement already pulled me into their world. It was quite magical I must admit. I was able to get out of my head almost immediately and just be in the moment. I started to ponder as I laid on my board waiting for a wave…
Where is the fear?
Wow! These kids are bold! Head planting, diving into the swells, jumping over and under the waves as they smash into the coastline on their little boards. Each time one kid gets knock down, without hesitation– they RISE UP-spit out the water they may have inhaled and go back for more! Pure joy and exhilaration light up the circumference each child forms around me. Some have their own boards, while others simply jump onto the back of the nearest child to catch a wave. Now, for all you moms and dads out there- this may seem like typical child’s play…It’s kids being kids. Yes, this is true. But, if we stop and think about it, why do most adults have difficulty letting go and enjoying the ride (moment)? We sometimes hesitate and feel stuck or paralyzed by fear. We anticipate the potential mishaps- we may get smacked in the back (or face) with a wave or suck down a pint of water if we slip under a swell- so we opt out. Actually, we MISS OUT.
Where do we draw the line?
Is it that we know better? There’s more of a risk as we get older and we can’t afford to break a limb or get hurt. We may be thinking that we have way too many responsibilities and perhaps people depending on us? Or we simply “know” the potential dangers as opposed to a child not taking into consideration the dangers. Therefore, adults are more careful and apprehensive. Yes, this could all be true, but I invite you to think about the line we draw in the sand- the line that separates fear from practicality, fear from responsibility, fear from fun, and so on. Either way, FEAR is the number one roadblock for most humans. Why is it that most kids do not have fear? I think back to a conversation I had with my dad a while back. I had a fear around something (ironically to do with water). He reminded me of a time when I swam out to the floating dock at our town’s lake all on my own, (without a life jacket) when I was only 5 years old. Ironically, it’s a water reference I know… To him, it seemed foreign that I had developed a fear of anything to do with the water, because he had seen me fearless as a child in the water. He didn’t understand- what happened?
This has me thinking that as we get older we start to develop fears based on, well, let’s face it…LIFE. I can rationalize the concept of why most kids don’t have major fears (if they are lucky enough to have a relatively stress-free or trauma-free childhood). They simply don’t know what fear is if they haven’t had something tragic happen to them or someone in their immediate circle. This makes sense. But, then why as adults do we have a tendency to hold onto every tragic or hard incident and bring them into each present moment? Perhaps the breakdown of trust also plays in integral role in our adult thinking and rationalization of fear.
A circle of trust was established that day on the beach for sure. Unbeknownst to the Venice Beach kids, each child played a role. The child who was already comfortably situated on their board shared the ride and trusted that the kid jumping onto them wouldn’t weigh them down or mess up their ride. While the kid that dove onto the child already in position trusted that they would be brought to the shore safely, with the child below him navigating. It was amazing to watch all of that transpire and that moment really hit me. It’s just that simple, actually. No learned behavior or jaded attitudes and most likely these kids weren’t thinking of any of concerns, worry, or fear and were simply enjoying the ride! I give their parents kudos for allowing them to play (and monitor them from afar). This allows the freedom to form their own personalities, reactions and coping mechanisms.
I totally get adult self-preservation or self-protection/defense mechanism. In fact, I had to work extremely hard through my own fear-based thought pattern on that scary incident that happened to me in the ocean a year ago. This is what created that new fear within me, which my dad had reference earlier. It was in fact scary and could have been life threatening, but I worked through the fear and am proud to say that I am back to being the fish I once was as a kid. I did rationalize it all and I admit I am indeed a bit more cautious, careful and aware of my surroundings. But, I did not give up and therefore did not loose the opportunity to experience something that brings so much joy into my life.
I was able to STOP. ZOOM OUT. REFOCUS. I realized that history doesn’t have to repeat itself and that just because I was thrown from my board and held under water for a long period of time in the past, did not mean that it will happen again. In most cases, if we are careful and aware, we can still enjoy the things we did as children. I learned my lesson, that’s for sure. Note to self: do not go in the Pacific when there is a huge storm coming and the swells are over 7 ft. Got it!
Whether we have tiny or extreme fears surrounding certain things in our life, it’s really all the same, as it’s relative to each person and the severity of their fear, and it’s a block preventing us from moving forward. Regardless. It’s a BLOCK. I use this day at the beach as an example to illustrate that sometimes the simplest of moments can help us gain perspective. So, when thinking about the original question as I laid on my board- where was the fear in those kids? Perhaps each child had their own apprehensions, but they pushed through as to not get made fun of for not participating…or they simply didn’t want to miss out on the fun!
Tap into your inner child!
Sometimes we get so consumed with the daily stresses and worry in our lives that we think we are stuck in a particular pattern or situation. Or fear of the unknown (or the known) paralyzes us. Well, we are never stuck. We always have the power to change our mindset/change our life.
Isn’t it time we all start enjoying the ride and go back to a place before we learned fear, mistrust and worry…and for even a few minutes of our day, frolic in the sunshine as though we are 7 again!