I spent last weekend camping with a large group of people and there were, for reals, a gazillion kids there. A gazillion. And with every bump and tumble into each other five hundred more kids seemed to poof! into existence like one of those cartoon cloning scenes. The tiny minions were dressed in layers of dust and dirt. Sticks, rocks, and pinecones were glued to their sticky palms. Their nappy hair collected stray ash from the fire pit and their snot trails were the color of mud. Often in the distance you could hear the cry of one or two protesting some parental mandate: you will take a nap! you will sit down and eat! you will wash your hands before you eat! But aside from the occasional tears, the little people swarmed the camp, unleashed with joyous rapture at the ability to run “free” with their own kind in nature’s playground. And I am almost positive that “wearing dirt” was definitely a part of their declaration of semi-independence.
To live for a weekend among such noise and activity may seem like a recipe for a very large headache (and it might have been had you been expecting a relaxing honeymoon under a canopy of beautiful redwood trees) but it was actually fun. It was fun to watch children let loose to safely explore their world, to push and pull at the boundaries of it, to literally taste and touch it (as many of them surely did). It also reminded me of how adverse I can become at getting messy with some of the areas in my own life–hesitating to throw off the tidiness that my own perfectionistic expectations can create. I sometimes find myself preferring to “keep clean” in order to avoid having to deal with the mess later. I tend to take the easier, “cleaner”, safer route which brings me to a destination that I think is fulfilling but really is not when I admit that I have been fooled by my own false sense of satisfaction. I wonder why I feel discontent. I wonder why I feel restless. My tendency to take the path of least messy has only produced a half-lived life in some of the areas that I dream of being more fruitful and satisfying.
I want to remember that just as it is for children, so it is for me….that sprouted from the layers of dirt grow the seeds of confidence and mastery. Seeds that grow new connections and help form conclusions about my world that are based upon authentic experiences. Seeds that grow from the lessons of self discovery, exploration, cause and effect, and testing the limits of my own strength.
I want to toss aside the fear of muddied snot trails, nappy hair, and grubby hands.
I want to wear a messy face.