“A man is not old until regrets take the place of his dreams.” ~Proverb
Something beautiful just occurred to me.
I spend so much time stressing over my future adult achievements—a good career, a home for life, getting published, an adult relationship, possibly a kid and a large dog—that I don’t often revel in the things that seven-year-old me would have been stoked about.
How many of us do?
I try to treat my inner child with something every week, like painting, playing with my cat, or indulging in some candy—a very rare thing! But I don’t often think of achieving the dreams I had as a kid.
You know the type: ride your bike as fast as you can without coming off, climb to the top of that tree, make a mud pie that your parents would be totally happy for you to drag into the house.
Those things seem absurdly simple now, which is all the more reason to embrace and celebrate them as adults. Here are some of my childhood dreams that I’ve reached, experience on a regular basis, or still hope to fulfill:
1. I love the rain, part 1.
I was never allowed near puddles when I was a kid. Last autumn I took it upon myself to fling my twenty-five-year-old body into a massive puddle while out for a walk with my dogs and my dad. I got soaked, he got soaked, and it was a beautiful thing. Twenty years I waited for that one…
2. I love the rain, part 2.
One of the roads leading from my boat to the village I live in becomes seriously flooded when the heavens open. I sometimes cycle up to the village to buy some fruit. On the way back, I take a detour to the monster puddle that’s formed, build up some speed, and fly through it on my bike. Childhood dream: accomplished. Every time.
3. I love the rain, part 3.
Puddles weren’t the only thing I was banned from as a kid. I couldn’t go out in the rain in general, so it thrills me to go out when I know it’s going to pour and deliberately dawdle down the country lane.
I know when the clouds are going to split: the wind picks up and gushes about me, the air smells thick with the impending shower. I stand beneath the sky with my arms wide open and welcome the first drops with glee. Then I do a little rain dance as I begin to get soaked.
I walk back home at a leisurely pace, even relishing the cold and the feel of the water trickling through my hair, knowing full well that I’m going to curl up in dry clothes with a mug of tea when I get back.
4. Eating ripe fruit.
This one may seem like an odd achievement, but I was always given a plate and a wad of tissue if I ate something like a nectarine. I longed to just be able to eat the thing without having to be obsessively clean about it.
Let’s face it: ripe fruit and dignity don’t go hand-in-hand. The first bite is the best because the thing explodes in your mouth. Why diminish a sweet experience by trying to mop it up? Nowadays, I just give it a slurp and carry on regardless. I may be sticky by the end but I enjoyed it!
5. Dress up.
I tried to play dress-up when I first began school, but some nasty kids ridiculed me and I never did it again. I’ve always been too shy to dress up as a result, but in the past few months, I’ve been really embracing it.
It’s not only been fun; it’s also helped me develop confidence in my personality and physical appearance.
6. Build a fire.
I was desperate to be in The Scouts when I was little, but it wasn’t considered ‘proper’ for me to be part of that. For many years, I’ve longed to gather fuel and build a camp fire without the aid of artificial fuels or matches.
On my recent (although troubled) camping trip, I got to do just that! I had good tinder in the form of fluffy, cotton-like seed heads and straw; plenty of kindling and dry dead-wood; and my trusty strike-stick. After about ten minutes, the fire was burning bright and I was cooking me and my friend a vegetarian meal. Awesome.
7. The great slinky challenge.
I couldn’t have a slinky when I was growing up in case it injured one of our dogs, so now I want to take a leaf out of Ace Ventura’s book.
I want to find a place in the world where there’s a massive flight of steps—200 or more—and push a slinky all the way down them, hopefully reaching the bottom. Why? Because it would be totally cool!
8. Into the deep.
I’m a little embarrassed about this one but I’ll share it anyway. I want to learn to swim. I tried so hard when I was younger to nail this—I even had lessons—but I could never overcome my fear of the water and how out of control I felt in it.
I’m still apprehensive about bodies of water now. I even find being in a bath uncomfortable! And yes, I do live on the boat where the tide can rise to six metres. One day…
Not the mythological kind but manatees, and I admit this is more of a recent dream than a childhood one, but it’s one that my inner child craves. I’d like to spend a day (or several) swimming and working with manatees, to help conserve their environment and take care of them. I’d overcome my fear of water to do this, without a doubt.
10. The big one.
I don’t often tell people this but my absolute dream would be to work for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. I want to move to Vancouver to be a regular out-in-the-field photographer, writer, and orca conservationist. I’ve wanted this since I was about nine or ten, and I suspect I’ll do it one day.
Adult goals are good to have but sometimes they turn into chores. It’s important to remember and celebrate the simpler things you dreamed of when you were growing up.
You might discover a dream you abandoned then because you thought it was unattainable—but now it could be well within your grasp.
Photo by Bill A