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  • Writer's pictureSharon Uy

#38. Youth


Is it just me, or are you also feeling a little old these days?

 

Despite my group clients' perpetual state of astonishment that I will be 40 this year, followed invariably by (very welcome) compliments, which I drink in with delight, it's difficult to truly embody their sentiments in the moments I discover more (and longer) gray hairs or when I find it takes a bit longer to straighten up after sitting for a while.

 

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, can youth be, too?

 

Because I keep beholding old, and I think I need to start beholding more youth.

 

Not that I know what that would mean, to a T.

I do know that I embrace the perks of my Filipino genetics, and my playfulness.

I have not been embracing, as current inner child and simultaneous shadow work has shown me, the shame of what I consider to be an existing undeveloped social and emotional maturity, and how that has held me back my whole life, still holds me back.


In some ways I feel so desperate to grow up - like I missed my one window to becoming a fully formed adult, and now I'll never get the chance to smoke (gross) a Virginia Slim (gross, but sophisticated?) on the balcony of my house by the beach or on the other side of the country, with a fluffy white cat purring beside me (there is Pacquito, who just turned 16, by the way).


In other ways, I remember how painfully shy I was as a young child, and, outside of the home, quite lonely, and though those qualities are in such stark difference to who I am now, it makes sense to me that my childhood and current home has remained such a refuge.


When I do feel safe to share these self-perceived flaws, they're generally met with kindness and reflections on the cultural differences between where we physically exist on the globe, and where our hearts and souls are accustomed to thriving.


It is true, I concede, that Western culture does a fantastic job of dangling in front of us, as bait to some pernicious and unclear prize, the idea of individualism and working more and being more and doing more, of growing up and straight out of our Eastern inclinations towards communality, to be self-sufficient to the point of relational alienation. So that when we "retire" at an increasingly older age, we'll have what youth within us and what company outside of us to enjoy it?

 

I've been too much in work mode.

All work and no play exacerbates Brookie's aches and pains, both physically and spiritually.

 

The worthy work for me to do is to find the balance, to return to homeostasis, to both release the shame and invoke the beauty of who I was as a child, that child that continues to exist because, duh, inner children are real, and they are longing for our friendship, care, and attention.

 

The anomaly, the challenge, is to infuse oneself with youth as opposed to holding on to the past, or berating oneself for having let it lapse unawares.

 

When I think of the best and most comforting of my youth, I think of books and TV dinners and cartoons, of fast food and Capri Suns, of opening a can of soda 5% so that I'd have to suck the liquid out of the middle of the top, and how curious and annoying that may have been. I think of the fun drives and daily outings, just me and Dad as I'd accompany him on his errands, and I know now exactly why my almost-5-year-old nephew says that Lolo is his "very best friend in the whole world." I think of breakfasts of spam on which Mom would put little plastic palm trees, and rice was the sea foam. I think of this little house and how it once upon a time seemed so big, especially when Mom would make my brother and me little intricately detailed maps for scavenger hunts on a regular old weekday, a home brimming with family members spanning four generations, of music and laughter and art and baked goods and yummy smells, of a world without devices (outside of basic cable television and radios and VHS tapes and 8-tracks), in which my brother and I used our imaginations to build forts and write skits and dream up the rest of our lives, and boredom wasn't really a thing. I think of laughter and safety and closeness. Of a mind much stiller than it is today, of possibility and presence and peace. And I think of the freedom that comes with that kind of love.


I think of gratitude. And that maybe I still will, or maybe I don't need to grow up so much, after all.

 

 

- as always, with love and thanks,

Brookie

 

-

Something to listen to on shuffle:

Youth, a playlist of songs that remind me of my younger years.

Still in progress, as are we all!

 

Some books to read:

- Work Won't Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe

- Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

- Recovery of Your Inner Child by Lucia Cappaccione

(I'd give summaries, but I think the titles are sufficiently spot-on.)

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