I hope everybody had a great weekend celebrating the holiday with family and friends!
It was a very hectic weekend for me because I was scurrying around everywhere for last-minute gifts. I wanted more under the Christmas tree and more goodies for my family since, as I said, I love giving presents. It was really nice to see the pile growing under the tree, even though most of the presents weren’t particularly significant, just little things I knew would make them smile. On Christmas Eve, we opened up our gifts, drank wine with cheese, watched concerts on DVDs, and went to bed feeling very good and happy. The next day, my family went out to eat with our family friends for lunch, watched Home Alone 2 (which I like better than the original, actually) with hot chocolate and cookies, and then pretty much ended Christmas there because what we did next was… clean and reorganize the house. We desperately needed to do this, especially as relatives were visiting for New Year’s, so I didn’t mind. I was actually excited–although it was a bit daunting at first.
And this was when I learned something important about growing up…
For years now, whenever we had to clean out the junk in our family house, my hoarding tendency would come out and I would refuse to throw out a bunch of marble notebooks from my childhood because I’d written stories and doodled in them diligently. I didn’t want to throw out my “precious” tales and artwork because they were nice reminders of my passion and dedication to writing and drawing as a child. Nostalgia always had a strong grip on me, so flipping through the notebooks never failed to make me want to keep them for sentimental reasons.
However, things were different this time, and it was strange, because I naturally felt ready to throw them out. This was one of those moments that proved that a time would come for the heart to grow ready for change and to let go of its own accord. I, of course, still felt nostalgic going through the pages of my notebooks, but I felt something different, something stronger. I felt an aversion to myself, at this empty shell of the person I have become, someone who now spends all that energy wondering, “Ah, what once was,” and, “What could have been,” thoughts sprouting from a romanticized memory of myself as a child.
Why dwell on things of the past so much instead of focusing on the now? This is definitely a problem I have. I think fondly back to my childhood, of how much energy and dedication I had for my creative work, as if all of that that is only a thing of the past now. And I think one reason I do that is because I feel like I have long since lost that passion and that spark; hence, I like to recall my former self in “all its glory.” Ah, the good ol’ days.
This is a greatly self-defeating habit, which I realized with surprise yesterday. I was so often comparing my present self to my past self, with the firm belief that I could never revive or live up to it, that I was actively suffocating who I was now. I kept telling myself, “I could never be like that again,” and, “That must have been the prime of my life,” which is sad, really. Am I really going to settle on my childhood as the peak of my talents and abilities when I’m not even halfway through life? Clearly, I am still passionate about my pursuits since I am always thinking about them and working on them–maybe just not as single-mindedly as I had when younger.
This all made me realize that with these notebooks still lying around, I would never try to improve myself, never try to beat past projects with new projects if I was always wallowing in what once was and comparing my now to then. Yes, childhood was great–it let my imagination soar and there were many possibilities for the future (like finding out at age 14 I’m an undiscovered Sailor Scout), but now I was in that very future, and I wasn’t taking on any possibilities. In place of even an ounce of imagination, there was no more disc space in my mind because it was all packed with past memories, some of which I was definitely viewing through rose-tinted glasses, and new doubts.
I knew I had to get rid of the notebooks. And I had to get over my childhood. Because that could be keeping me from growing up. I’m not like Peter Pan, who rejects growing up with all his being. Actually, I have grown up; I was just rejecting the fact. It’s like Andy discarding his toys in the third installment of Toy Story (yes, you may take a moment to cry), even though he had so many fond memories from childhood with Woody and Buzz Lightyear. I had to put those notebooks away for good, along with other goods like the bunny alarm clock my mom had laid down on my pillow next to me one morning on my birthday. It had long since stopped working, after all.
There’s a fear that with throwing these items away, I will forget. And it’s true because as I was looking through my old things, I did find things I had completely forgotten about. But it’s now time to focus on the new memories, on actively creating them now that I have more power to mold who I am as a person and to draw the life I want.
So the words of wisdom I impart on you this time around is “out with the old, in with the new.” At my core, I am still who I have always been. But now it’s time to flush out the child me I had trapped in storage, and work on growing up and being the best I can be (cue “Be a (Wo)Man”).
Gallantly growing up,