The letter request:
I would like a letter from my child self to my adult self to rediscover my inner child that has been lost amongst societal pressures. I need some creative ideas of how to do this and reignite my sense of adventure! My child self has always enjoyed making things and being creative particularly making jewellery and printmaking, hugs, sticking up for the underdog, dancing, reading, trying new things and meeting new people, travel, being spontaneous and laughing. Things that my adult self likes that child Emma doesn’t like include worrying about the future, worrying about work and my career (or lack of!), remaining quiet when I should speak up and watching too much TV.
The letter request:
Hi Emma of today,
Long time no see. One minute we’re chasing friends in the playground – the only goal being to reach them, tap them, scream ‘You’re It!’ then get the hell outta there – the next minute we’re expected to chase careers, money, security, an endless yet inexplicable shopping list of must-haves. The deal’s pretty much the same, as far as I can tell: we’re still meant to reach them and tap them, only this time we’re supposed to scream ‘I’m It!’ and then stay. B u t what if, as is the case with us, despite these new rules we still just feel like getting the hell outta there?
Right now I’m wishing I knew the word for the opposite of hindsight. I don’t unfortunately, maybe it’s cos I’m just a kid. What I will say though is this: allow me the benefit of no-hindsight…
Age ≠ Wisdom. It can but it does not always. Don’t worry, this is a common misconception in adults. Sure, you gain more knowledge with experience but age also means you’ve accumulated gallons of useless information that clangs around in your head and makes it difficult to hear the important things like imagination and intuition. Suddenly you can type 80wpm and list Brad Pitt’s last six girlfriends but you can’t remember how on earth to make an origami crane, or at least have a crack at working one out.
Here’s some tips to help subdue the white noise:
1. Touch things. Touch as many different surfaces as you can. Touch that fence, touch that tree with spiky seed-pods, wipe your grubby paws across that shiny glass window, touch that lady’s freaky gelled-up hair. Make it your goal to touch as many different surfaces as you can. Do it every day in the hope that the sensations will trigger memories of things you used to know. Same goes for smelling.
2. Keep records. Kids are encouraged to keep scrapbooks and diaries, usually as a way of building literacy, but once they’re literate they just stop. Keep your scissors and glue stick by your side. Cut out every picture that stokes your fire.
3. Sigh deeply, cry loudly and move on. Move fast so that worry can’t follow. Disguise yourself for a time, if necessary, so it doesn’t recognise you. Wigs are fun. So are masks.
4. Only chase the things that truly engage you. This might take some focus: stop and reflect often to make sure you’re doing stuff because you’re passionate about it, not out of obligation or a sense that it’s too late to sidestep onto a different, more desirable, path. It’s not.
5. Re-jig your sense of time and properly use every little space that you can find. Television is designed to bully its way into your day. Sure, that program might neatly fill the half hour you’ve got free before you head out to dinner tonight but laying in the park with your eyes closed takes less than half an hour to feel great and sketching a few things that happened today into your notebook beats Neighbours every time.
6. Gravitate towards the things you’ll most likely suck at. If you think you’d probably be really crap at rock-climbing, get a group together and try it. If the neighbourhood dogs cry when you sing then join a choir and belt it out. Why the fuck not?
7. Have crushes on cool people. Every time you hear of someone living life a bit less ordinary, follow them. If it’s someone famous, research as much as you can about them. Some people to get started with are Nancy Wake (aka The White Mouse), Sheena from The Uniform Project, Miranda July (I hear there’s this thing called YouTube in your world – check out her vid about how to make buttons), Sabrina Ward Harrison and everyone at 826 Valencia. Wow, inspiration much!
If it’s someone you know in real life, stalk them and make them be your friend. Surround yourself with interesting people.
8. Even if you’re 99% sure you can’t make it, try just in case. I’m pretty sure you could make everyone’s birthday and Christmas cards from here on in. And you could probably make everyone’s presents as well – jewellery’s the perfect place to start. I’d bet money that if you found the right pattern you could make that dress and maybe, just maybe, if you jumped on all those grapes you might be able to make some wine. Try okay?
9. For the month of December take one photo a day. Print each photo up and glue it to a piece of cardboard and send it to someone as a postcard. If you run out of people to send them to, just start posting them to random addresses from the telephone book (they still have those in 2009, right?).
10. Take an art class. It only needs to be interesting enough to keep you going back. Don’t put too much thought into it, don’t worry if it’s not something you’re going to love. Think of it as weekly exercise – creativity is a muscle too, you know.
11. Find a pen pal. Maybe pick a friend back home. Make a promise to yourself that you will write them once a fortnight and you’ll have one tale of adventure each letter. If it’s the day before the day you have to write and you haven’t done anything exciting yet, get moving sister.
12. Take the road less travelled. When you’re walking for your morning coffee try a different route. Try as many as possible. When you’re riding home from work accidentally-on-purpose get lost.
The good news is that we inner children are never lost; we’re just hiding. You’re so damn grown up right now you can’t find me.
But you know how when you play hide-and-seek with a really little kid, who doesn’t quite get the rules, they give away their hiding spot at the outset? They say, ‘Okay I’m going to go and hide behind the curtain over there and then you have to count to ten and then come and find me?’ That’s me now. I’m telling you where I’m hiding. Close your eyes, ok? Close your eyes and count to ten. I’ll be there.
I’m sure that, together, we’re clever enough to make all this happen – after all, how many child selfs do you know who would use ‘inexplicable’ in their opening paragraph?
Good luck: I think we’ll need it. Stay strong: I know we can. Love and crafts and hugs, just the way we like it.
Emma of yesteryear x