noun: inner child; plural noun: inner children
a person’s supposed original or true self, especially when regarded as concealed in adulthood.
While I was working on my entry for the ‘Essex Belongs to Us’ competition yesterday, I found myself beginning a poem entitled ‘What Does Essex Mean to Me?’. Having been born in Colchester, and then growing up in Clacton-on-Sea (and then finding myself living in Colchy in adulthood), it is a county very close to my heart. As I started writing about my home town by the seaside, I found myself come out with the following lines:
The noise and lights of Clacton Pier
Bring to mind those simple times
Full of childish thrill and cheer
In arcades of flashing lights and signs.
As I then scanned my childhood years for other memories associated with the county, my mind then drifted further afield to Southend on-Sea…
Or sometimes further to Southend
Playing with pirates and Peter Pan
The sort of amazing, magical weekend,
That you’d wish never to grow into a man.
By ‘pirates and Peter Pan’ I am referring to the attraction known as ‘Never Never Land’, which is sadly no more. Modelled after the magical realm of the same name from the Peter Pan stories, it was a truly amazing and fantastical place to visit when I was but a wee lad. So many castles within an enchanted forest where various model characters told tales, it was truly a joy to walk around and experience, and never seemed to get boring no matter how many times we visited it. Sadly it closed in 2001, but its one of those fond memories that I can still always hold onto (and the fairy castle still remains today, as the site within the link shows).
Of course, growing up is inevitable; Never Never Land isn’t real, and you can’t be a child forever – but it did get me to thinking how important it is to hold on to that child inside of you. As the definition above conveys, in a sense it is your ‘original’ or ‘true’ self. I am the person I am today because of my childhood experiences, therefore they are not something that should be cast aside or forgotten. There is nothing wrong with indulging your inner child occassionally.
For me, I find I do this first and foremost simply through the medium of writing, as I have inadvedently demonstrated through my initial attempt at writing about my home county. It is essentially an escape into another world, creating your own inhabitants who follow your rules. This is especially true if writing science fiction or fantasy, or simply any story where your character goes on an unbelievable adventure. I mean, I’m currently working on a short story that involves witches and talking cats! If I didn’t have that odd indulgence into the fantastical and/or downright silly I think I’d probably drive myself mad. A lot of the poems I have written are quite childlike as well in a way, now that I think about it.
My job also affords me various opportunities to let my inner child come out to play. As I support individuals with autism, among the things I do is take them out to the local ‘leisure’ pool, designed with children in mind, that is full of slides, rapid rivers and all sorts of fun things like that. And at the age of nearly 30, I can still have an absolute rollicking good time at a place like this, and find it’s one of the highlights of my week. Going to a local trampoline park is something of a treat as well, even if I do find myself exhausted after bouncing about for only 15 minutes!
Indulging in nostalgia is also a perfectly healthy thing, I find. Well, I think we all do it. Play old ‘retro’ video games from when we were growing up, listening to old music we loved (that the grumpier of us may insist is better than any of the rubbish they put on these days). Heck, this is precisely what I’m doing when I write one of my ‘Years of My Life’ entries on this very blog! As long as we’re not permanently living in the past with our rose-tinted spectacles on, there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing back to simpler times when we have the spare time to relax and bask in them.
So remember the good times. Be a little silly now and then. Go and jump in a few puddles, jump up and down on a trampoline. Sit down and write about the imaginary world that you find yourself daydreaming about. You’re never too old…
She steps soundlessly
Through ancient dust Checkingfor faint signs
Of others like herself
The lost and forgotten
Slipping through the cracks
Of mere mortal memory
And became poor ghosts
With no name or history.
Her own is now clouded,
The end by her own hand
With no final note left
And no one to ever know.
She accepts this sad loss
But shows souls the way
In hope of setting another free.
So, I can’t help feeling like I’ve got myself in a bit of a rut lately. I go to work, I come home, I have dinner, try and fit quality writing time in wherever I can, while also worrying about whether I’m letting myself unwind and relax enough (only to feel guilty about not writing or doing something productive when I attempt to relax), go to bed, wake up and go to work again, rinse and repeat. I mean sure, I spend plenty of quality time with my boyfriend, I get out to see friends occasionally (though it appears this gets increasingly hard to organise as you get older), but I still have the nagging feeling of being trapped in the same old cycle day after day, month after month, to the point where I just wonder what the end goal is, what the hell it’s all for. I suppose not having the structure and context that university previously provided me with may well be a contributing factor to this (I probably would do a Master’s if I could afford it!), but I just constantly find myself thinking ‘Surely there’s more to it than this’. I’ve always been someone who’s focused on the bigger picture, the bigger questions, so it’s particularly frustrating to find myself feeling like this. Being creative is essentially a lot of what keeps me sane, I find, whether that be working on my novel, writing poetry, or sometimes the odd bit of art if I’m in the mood. And above all, I want to get out and see the world while I’m still able to, and share good times and amazing experiences with those closest to me, with work being a means to an end to be able to afford to do these things and be able to live comfortably. I’m very much someone who works to live, rather than simply living to work. I cannot understand people who completely exhaust themselves working something insane like 70+ hours a week; surely there isn’t any time left to actually spend the money you’ve earned and truly enjoy life? Time is such a precious thing, and if we aren’t careful it can slip through our fingers so easily, and before we know it months, or even years have passed – and what have we to show for it?
So I recently began a ‘Positives Notebook’, which is more or less what the name would suggest – a notebook to jot down positive things about you and your life, a recommended technique from a course I attended focusing on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (which I was placed on after continuing depression and anxiety, due to a number of things in my life which I won’t go into here). And actually, it is a really helpful way of keeping yourself focused and positive – writing down what I have actually done/achieved today has made me feel ten times better about myself. It was also recommended to put photos of friends/lyrics from songs you like within it, which i will probably start doing. I just thought I’d share a bit of what I have written in it so far, and hopefully this can be useful to someone who suffers from these issues…
‘Yourself and plus one’
The invite kindly suggests
In it’s snaky, curly font,
Between the lines saying
That if the ‘plus’ isn’t a partner
Or an approved mutual friend,
They a) already despise them
Or b) bear no ill will just yet
But dread you bringing one who’s
‘Alright when you get to know ‘em’
Cementing their cold decision
That they’d still rather not.