When I worked with kids on a farm in the Hudson Valley, my whole approach to interacting with the world was split wide open. I’ve written about it before, and will probably continue to write about it forever.
During our staff training, my boss told us that when we were walking with kids in the woods, we should let them climb up the steep sides of the hill and into tree limbs. We should practice a reasonable amount of caution but also cautioned us against being too strict. “Kids need to climb on stuff,” he said.
My whole childhood of Extreme Caution flashed before me, and I knew that it would take some serious work for me to keep that limiting, nagging fear in check. To know when to say, “Get down,” and when to say “Keep going.” In order to be comfortable with letting the kids go, I’d have to get more comfortable with letting myself go too.
That “no” instinct can be strong, dammit.
Even before I worked on the farm I identified this need to say “yes” more. I remember writing in my journal once during my freshman year of college that I wanted to be less of a “Stop Sign” and more of a “Go Sign.” I think being a camp counselor for kids on a working farm complete with live animals and live wires helped me realize that goal fairly quick–at least in a physical sense.
But it’s a slippery slope, ain’t it? It’s easy to get bogged down in new rules, old habits, unfamiliar routines, and suddenly find yourself being more of a grinch than you want. I feel bogged down, I feel grinch-ish a lot lately. Between the house flooding and bills and working in a [sometimes stifling] bureaucracy, I find myself rejecting ideas waaay more than I’d like.
It’s a bit late (about 25 days late) but I’m resolving to be more GO! in 2009. This is both a “less talk, more action” thing and a “say yes as much as possible” thing. Wish me luck.