The Unlived Life Within Us
As a parent, a good amount of my ‘parenting’ involves picking up my children’s possessions off the floor. A family room mat covered with crayons and half finished pieces of craft from my little artists. Whilst making figures out of pop sticks and cottonwool balls may not be my personal forte, when the pencils are out I can’t resist joining in.
I love to draw. I seem to get lost in time, and forget about everything else that is going on. When concentrating my attention on drawing a cartoon rabbits overly proportionate eyes, I often think how I should start taking art lessons again because it relaxes me (and so I can learn to draw other things apart from animals with overly proportionate eyes). But then, like a lot of us, life just gets in the way and I forget about those art lessons.
During my childhood, I was quite a good artist. Pen in hand constantly, I would happily entertain myself drawing the scenes of wherever we went on family trips. Of no fault of anyone, I grew up and veered off in the direction of academia, leaving behind my beloved art. I simply forgot that I love to draw.
Just like that.
When talking to people I know who are unhappy or overwhelmed in their own lives, I often ask if they're doing anything that they are passionate in, you know, just for them. This question is usually met with an odd expression as to why such a question would be asked. What would that have to do with the way they are feeling. Or how if they did do something that ‘lit them up’ how would that make things better.
But what if it is just what is missing? To get back to doing what came to us so naturally when we were younger. To do now what we did before, just for the intrinsic enjoyment of it. Just because.
For many of us, we got caught up in what life said we should be doing, rather than what we really wanted to do. Good on those who manage to follow their dream and live their passion. But for many, some parts of their dream didn’t quite get realised, or maybe some parts just got forgotten.
The writer, Steven Pressfield stated, “…most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us”. Many of us have a life within us that is still sitting there, waiting to be lived. Perhaps we naturally leaned towards these areas in our childhood, but parents, school, peers or just society veered us off in another direction.
Many of us are artists that don’t do art, readers that don’t read, healers that don’t heal, writers that don’t write and creators that don’t create. The fisherman that doesn’t have time to go fishing; the guitar player that has his guitar hidden behind his clothes in his wardrobe; the traveller that hasn’t left their town in over ten years; the dancer that hasn’t moved her body since she had children; the life of the party who no longer socialises; the footballer who didn’t make it professional, so no longer kicks a ball, at all.
Many of us are living lives that are missing a part of us that made us feel alive.
The surge of happiness when we create, or move our body or sing is so important for our wellbeing, as is the anticipation of them happening.
In order to keep ourselves in happy and healthy, we need to do what we're subjectively passionate in. When we are in our flow, we are in our element and we feel alive. The benefits we gain from these small moments flows into the others areas in our lives, like our relationships and our work. Thinking of our long lost passions that we could resurrect, we will come up with a plethora of reasons as to why we can’t start living our unlived life now.
Yes you are busy, money might be tight, our partners might tell us off, our kids might whinge for an hour, but the main reason that is stopping us is ourselves.
No one else is going to offer us our unlived life unless we ask for it. We can start living it now if we want to, even if it is in the smallest capacity. Dust off the guitar, get the fishing rod out, do that art class or dance the night away, even if it is just for one night.
Start doing the things you forgot you loved to do. You still have plenty of time.