I noticed a man playing with his son in the pool.
There was a beauty in how they interacted with each other. Bobbing heads under the water and back up.
Laughing. Playing. Delighting.
Children instinctively know what they need, and they express it. When they are happy they laugh. When they are sad they cry. When they are angry they scream.
They move their bodies in all ways.
Soon enough, we learn that there is a “right time” and a “right place” for different emotions or bodily movements. We learn a “right” way to walk and talk.
A “right” way to be in the world.
When a child or adult doesn’t adhere to these social norms, we label them: autistic, hyperactive, ADHD, withdrawn, anxious, socially awkward, depressed, emotional.
What if those who suppress their urges to move and speak in certain ways are actually the ones who are socially awkward?
Outside the realm of actions that harm other people, why do we care so much about how someone moves or speaks?
What does our culture find so offensive or problematic when someone cries or laughs at a time when it might be deemed “inappropriate?”
Who decided when it was inappropriate to feel certain things?
Is there an emotion police? A movement police?
Who made these rules? And why do we adhere to them?
What’s the benefit to us if someone holds in their tears?
My yoga mentor Justin Ritchie likes to point out that we are trained in school to ask permission to go to the bathroom.
Stop to consider that for a moment. We learn, at an early age, that we must ask permission to honor the callings of our bodies.
It’s no wonder we are f*cked up as a culture. We learn to hold everything in until we are given permission to express it or let it out.
Emotions. Thoughts. Beliefs, Bodily fluids.
And we comply.
We all have Stockholm syndrome, so conditioned to the dictates of our masters that we don’t even realize it anymore. Like the circus elephant who still believes she is chained to the pole, even though she has the power to trample her master.
What would it be like to adopt the posture of a child, before the child got corrupted by our norms?
To skip along the beach or sidewalk; to dance and play. To get up and walk around during a class or meeting not because you “can’t sit still” but because you best absorb information kinesthetically, by moving around.
How would it feel to express the emotions you feel when you feel them, in healthy ways? To not bottle everything up inside, waiting for the moment when it is safe to release, or hoping that you don’t explode like a steam pipe?
What would it feel like to live according to the rhythms of your unique nature, without regard to what the culture says you should say or do?
We are so wrapped up in the pursuit of freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom to do what we want.
But what about freedom to BE how we are?
I believe that this is the freedom we truly desire.
This is not a freedom that can be bought with money, or with the right job. It’s a freedom we can obtain only by claiming it for ourselves, through asserting our right to BE how we are in any given moment, rather than DO certain things.
What would it feel like to show up in any situation as you are — without trying to adapt to a certain “way of being”?
What would become possible in a world where each of us is accepted for who we are and how we are in any given moment?
What is possible in a world where we are free to be, just as we are?