Denying Yourself Of This So-Called “Inappropriate” Pleasure Is Doing You Damage
GUEST POST BY REBECCA DETTMAN.
Has anyone noticed that Hollywood released two fairytales within a few months of each other this year? Make that... the SAME fairytale? Mirror Mirror and Snow White and The Huntsman are both very different versions of the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves tale, but dude! They’re still the same story! Released at the same time! WHAT? I’ve always felt that Hollywood holds up a mirror to the collective consciousness – literally mirroring where society is currently ‘at’, right back at us – and right now I’m drawing the conclusion that the world is hungry for some good old-fashioned dreams-come-true Happily Ever After.
A few years ago, while toiling away in a corporate job, I started craving The Lord of the Rings. Movie one. On DVD. The video store had no copies left (was everyone else craving it, too?), so I settled for another medieval fantasy movie (ignoring my husband’s “you’re such a geek” face expressions). Then I found myself pulling the 1000+ page Lord of the Rings trilogy off the bookshelf and obsessively reading it at midnight on a Monday. I’ve never read it before. So why the sudden fixation with fantasy? Must need a little escapism, I mused.
The next day I ran my new bizarre behaviour past a girlfriend. “You’re yearning to leave the corporate world and are finding solace in magic, mystery and dreams,” she emailed me (or something to that effect). Which naturally got me thinking.
Fantasy and escapism of every kind have a history of being dismissed and underrated by adults. If you don’t believe me, imagine trying to explain to your careers counsellor at high school (or your ultra-conservative accountant father) that instead of studying law at uni, you’d rather stay home and write fairytales. The only ‘safe’ ways in which adults allow themselves to break free from the monotony of their grey, factory-line existences is by indulging in a fairytale romance novel, Hollywood movie, Cinderella merchandise or Gothic-style video game. Adults who show too much excitement for any of these areas are labelled ‘losers’ or ‘geeks’ (case in point: my husband, above.)
Some adults might go as far as taking pleasure in dressing theatrically (turban, scarves, tinkling jewellery, flowers, Jedi helmets?!) – although the whole ‘dressing up’ domain is usually left exclusively to children. Using your imagination and getting blissfully lost in imaginary worlds for adults? Inappropriate. But why?
I recently wrote an article for this website about how, unlike children, adults don’t give themselves permission to cry. Well, add this to the list: unlike children, adults also don’t give themselves permission to play. (They think ‘playing’ is reading a magazine, getting their nails done, going shopping in Tokyo or buying a really expensive wine. Or car.) Well, guess what? Natural play is healthy, creative, relaxing, enjoyable and stimulating. If you’re forty-five years old and you’ve never dumped paint all over butcher paper and finger-painted, go right ahead. You’ll find everything you need at Kmart. If you’re constantly bemoaning the fact you had a horrible childhood because your mother was ill and you had to take care of your four younger siblings and never got to play in a sandpit, you know what? Get over it, and go and spend half an hour in your local sandpit making up for lost time.
Look at Paris Hilton. Young girls love her. Adults can’t stand her. We love to chastise her frivolous behaviour, because in reality, we’re probably jealous… she is a little blonde fairy who has the money and freedom to flit around the world, dressing prettily, attending parties, having fun and not worrying about too much at all. That’s soooo vacuous and selfish, I hear you say. But is it? Why shouldn’t she? Why shouldn’t YOU?
Honouring yourself, and doing things that make you feel wonderful, is an important way to give back to the self. Life is not about denial, victimhood and endless hard work. You will not ‘earn more in Heaven’ if you abstain from fun and adhere to a saintly boring existence. You must play! Don’t feel guilty when you play. If you don’t know how to play, just start by doing the one thing you keep denying yourself (writing poems, eating meringues, having sex, getting a foot massage, watching a comedy.) Don’t let other people shrivel their noses and get all high-brow on you. Lightness, flippancy and frivolity have their place in the universe, too! – all in good measure – so go and immerse yourself in a little fantasy!
When was the last time you allowed yourself to play? Really play?
Positive affirmation for the day: I entertain my inner child every day.
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