“Re-membering” a Boy with Joy.

November 1, 2023

“Re-membering” a Boy with Joy.

May 29, 2023

Yesterday was my 63rd birthday so I was flooded with memories.

I remember an afternoon at Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, California when I might have been two years old. All of my tiny being was focused on feeding the sheep in front of me. I was both terrified and exhilarated. I told my mom it was a “baaaaaad sheep,” imitating the noises from its mouth. I felt joy throughout my pint-sized body.

Young or old, we know what brings us joy. It’s only in the middle of our life that we “de-remember” (or “demember”) depriving ourselves of the “full-body yes” (as our MEA faculty member Scott Shute calls it). Remembering joy is integrating oneself—bringing yourself back to wholeness. But, somehow, modern life leaves adults spread out like a jigsaw puzzle, and part of our job of growing old and growing whole is to put this puzzle back together. 

When we were young, we lived in the moment. And, in being present to that immediacy, we could feel the full range of our emotions. Kids don’t have mixed feelings. For adults, mixed feelings represent the sand trap on the fairway of life. We get lost. Lose joy. And, as we enter our mature years, it is essential to remember that the pursuit of wisdom thrives on joy. My mentor on the subject of flow, the late Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, says it eloquently: 

“The best recipe for the spread of wisdom is the encouragement of curiosity, respect for the best accomplishments of the past, coupled with a burning desire for improving on them; and all of this within a conception of self that extends to other people, the planet and beyond. When these elements are in place, a joyful immersion in the complexity of life is likely to ensue - an openness to experience, a willingness to dive deep into issues of concern to self and others.”

So, when in doubt, start to “re-remember” yourself by cutting out the compartmentalization of your life, finding joy in curiosity, and appreciating all the ages you’ve ever been. Teddy Roosevelt suggested, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” which is a good reminder to stop comparing yourself with others or who you thought you’d be at this stage in your life. Just be the person you want to be at this stage. And you might find you’re on the path to becoming that person if you seek out that which brings you joy.

-Chip 

P.S. I just finished three grueling, exhilarating days of recording the audio book for "Learning to Love Midlife" and you can see my small padded cell in this video.

P.P.S. And if one video wasn’t enough for you today, here’s another one from yesterday - a present from my birthday.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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