It’s Never Too Late To Have a Happy Childhood

That’s what Manitonquat, the founder of the Circle Way, had written on his t-shirt, during one of his week-long camps 8 or 9 years ago that I attended in an ecovillage in Italy.

It struck me as a powerful message back then. He was 88 and travelled around the world holding  big community camps where we spent a lot of time deeply listening to each other and creating simple evening performances and rituals.

Manitonquat (Medicine Story) had just one rule.
He called it rule number 6 (or 7, I believe).

He’d have fun creating great suspense over what it was….
….it was the rule of not taking yourself too seriously.

If someone started taking themselves too seriously, he or someone else would just mention the rule with a smile. That was often enough for the “serious one” to gain some perspective.
Such a great rule to pin all over the house!!

I’m saying this as it’s all tied up with our playfulness and how much space we give ourselves to enjoy our lives.

I’m writing to you as I return on a train from a weekend in Naples. I held my daylong – Playfulness101 workshop.

It’s Never Too Late To Have a Happy Childhood

In the workshop I tried something new – I always try something new – this felt quite big though.

It was about rewriting our childhood.
Not our whole childhood.
Just a moment, one setting, where we missed play.

We tend to distort our memories anyway, so why not play around with our imagination?

The day started out creating a brave playful space, raising our energy by moving, smiling, connecting to each other with simple games, letting down masks and becoming really here-now.

Mid-morning we started worked through the 8 play personalities from Stuart Brown’s book, Play. And then in couples the participants shared stories of play from their childhood.

This first step, reconnecting to the parts of us that many of us have forgotten, is already quite powerful.

Some moments pop up where we remember that play wasn’t allowed. 

Perhaps a strict teacher, or parent or where we felt shy for some reason.

I asked everyone to pick one of these, not-so-fun-moments, and invited everyone to mentally rewrite it into something that allowed them to find their playfulness.

I asked everyone if they had understood what to do and one participant told us that for a few years between age 8 and 10 she had lost her sense of playfulness. 

She’d had it before and refound it again afterwards but those years of seriousness sort of bugged her. Working with imagination in a guided session she could change the circumstances so that she was invited into her best playful state of being.

After some quiet time where everyone played with their imagination a participant shared that he’d had a teacher that was quite unpleasant growing up. 

He changed some details, about what the teacher wore, how he spoke, adding funny details too that made him laugh. This changed the whole mood of his memory.

A very simple exercise but very profound.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

Play is in our very nature, vivid childhood memories of play gives us a really solid foundation to be a confident, alive and kind human being.

Find your playfulness first and everything else will flow.

This is the sentence that came to me the other day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.