I used to blaze my own trail decorated in costumes whistling the song of the week that got my feet a-dancin' and my heart a-singin'. My creative mind would take me everywhere. I would look for any chance to use my imagination to tell stories to others and to myself, inviting my friends and family on the journey.
I don't think I did it to deny reality, but to enhance it. Growing up a pastor's daughter, and only-child, there were quite a few things that I didn't really learn about or have to face or understand until I was older. My friends were almost all informed about dating and popular music and fashion. I'm not saying that my sunflower leggings and matching oversized sweatshirt weren't fashionable, but with that bob haircut, thick plastic glasses and glorious braces I can say I maybe wasn't the coolest kid on the block.
When people around me talked about "the butterfly" and "tootsie roll" I played along like I knew, because I did know. Insects and candy. Duh.
Here's the thing, it wasn't really because I was that sheltered. I wasn't. (Okay maybe I was a little bit, but hear me out). I went to public school my whole life in Long Beach. Snoop Dogg. I mean Snoop Lion. Enough said. Also, my parents did an amazing job teaching me about everything that kids around me talked about. I just didn't care very much so kind of let it go in one ear and out the other.
It was more fun playing and imagining and creating in the beautiful place where dreams come true and you really can do anything.
Then I started to grow up. I started having to pay attention to things I should know about because remaining naïve wasn't an option any longer. I started to have a desire to see the world for what it is: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I found myself hungry for more. So I learned and wrestled and grew and listened and observed. Life and people have a lot to listen to and learn from. I still keep trying to listen better and learn more.
But it has made me critical.
Feeling the brokenness of the world and seeing its injustices can do that.
The little imaginative costumed whistling girl has still always been with me and shown her face as I've grown up. Sadly, not as much as I want. The critical me looks longingly at the playful me desiring for her to show herself once more.
Walking in critical shoes can be very good, recognizing how multifaceted everything in the world is, using wisdom and discernment in each endeavor and relationship. Choosing (or at least attempting) to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. Walking in critical shoes can be very bad, recognizing how multifaceted everything in the world is, carrying a burden far too great for any one person that can end up being a joy-stealer and life-killer.
I have forgotten how to walk in the balance. I have forgotten how to walk.
Critical shoes have stopped my feet from moving. I can always find something wrong with something or someone. When I do, instead of giving something or someone a shot, I just don't.
Being older doesn't have to be an either/or. Although it seems like a lot of people (myself included) prefer to land more closely to either criticism or naïvety. Being older should be and. Criticism and naïvety.
Criticism to continue encouraging learning, listening, and doing with intention.
Naïvety to continue imagining, hoping, seeing, and believing something better.
I think it is time to dust off my costume box once more. It is time to walk and play.
"What good is livin' a life you've been given,
if all you do is stand in one place?" -Lord Huron, Ends of the Earth