“Anybody with artistic ambitions is always trying to reconnect with the way they saw things as a child.”

Tim Burton

“When I was a little kid we had a sandbox. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child… eventually.”

Steven Wright

As we grow older and experience the world, it’s easy to build walls around you to protect yourself from harsh realities life throws at you.

A broken heart before knowing what love is. A naive blunder you were tricked into. A mistake of genuine thoughtlessness. A moment of angry that backfires. Broken bones or injuries that show you how un-invincible you are. Shopping sprees on things you don’t even own anymore. Detours from your calling.

Been there, done that.

Layer by layer — without actually learning how to live well (in school for example) — we fortify ourselves from our mistakes and challenges we face in life. Sometimes this is good and keeps others from taking siege to our castle (the little bit of land of control we are holding onto). But it also puts a barrier between us and the world. And often it puts a barrier between us and ourselves. We separate who we are (what we like, what we dislike, who we aspire to be, what we enjoy doing for fun) with who the world wants us to be (or who we think we should be).

You could sum this long-winded sentence with the word ‘conformist’. We conform to what society wants for us, what our parents want for us, what our friends want for us and even what our moments of pain and setbacks want for us.

You break your arm skateboarding and you never pick up a board again. Or you do but you lose interest and eventually stop.

You feel betrayed in a relationship and the next time someone comes into your life you guard yourself against their potential betrayal. (Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!)

Instead of going to college for dance — the thing you’ve done since you were 3 years old — you play it safe because your parents tell you to do and you become a lawyer instead.

I’ve spent a lot of time working the last decade, and not always on the right things (for me).

We build up these walls to protect us, but ultimately they mostly just keep us locked up. But we don’t have to cage ourselves up to experience life. Hard moments are part of what life gives us. They are the lessons and detours that show us what is meaningful to us. Difficulty shows us how rad the good times are.

This past year, I’ve been slowing adding more and more childlike curiosity, wonder, imagination and play into my daily living. Creativity is a large part of my job. But this goes beyond increasing my creative abilities for work (although I do want that too).

By adding more and more of who we were and what we enjoyed growing up, we’ll begin to peel our ‘protective’ barriers, like layers of an onion, and find pieces of joy to keep.

Life is too short to take everything too seriously and conform to everyone around us instead of creating our unique path.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #774

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