We were organically absorbed in the things which fascinated us. We didn't worry about the degree to which we ought to dedicate time to these things. We just fell in love with them. A lot of adult lives could do with such doses of unmitigated surrender to inspiration. We should go towards it, we should let it overwhelm us - we should let it nurture our spirit.
This is how I do things. I revert back to what spoke to me and fuelled me years ago. I try to ignore what self-help articles insist will be good for me. A lot of advice on spiritual well-being tells us to go outside and hug trees, plant flowers or become immersed in a forest. I tend to go outside for the good of my physical health rather than to find inspiration. That's the truth of it. Yes, it's wonderful to take in the air and appreciate the changing seasons in such a raw, unadulterated display of constancy. But often I go for a nature walk to clear my head in preparation for the truest source of my joy - writing, reading and making things. There's nothing I love more than to let my imagination flow outwards into the tangible realm through ripping and sticking, scribbling and working on mammoth projects which reflect some part of me or another. I like to harness my responses to life, love and laundry, pushing them out onto paper. I love to quantify a thought or feeling in a completed enterprise. When I was a kid my step-grandmother insisted that I should be forced to get my head out of my books and made to spend more time climbing trees and running around like 'normal' children. My mum waved her hand at this. 'Leave her alone,' she said, 'She's happy.' And I was.
I also find my joy in expressing myself through what I wear. I also find my joy in collecting things which are faithful to a particular theme (nun dolls, rosaries, vintage postcards, old photos of Russian soldiers, political badges). I also find my joy in permitting myself to become obsessed with a certain obscure subject, drinking up everything I can find on it and then laying its influence to rest out of the blue. I also find my joy in exchanging wild contemplations with close friends; picking their brains and letting them pick mine on a journey which is going back to where it started - back to human interconnectedness, tied up in innocent curiosity and fierce love.
I do not want adulthood to tell you or me that we cannot indulge in an afternoon of potato painting. That we cannot spend two solid hours in a bubble bath. That we can't lie on our backs watching the clouds. That we can't create a 'moodboard' to describe the month of May. That we can't swim so hard across the pool that we think we'll die trying to outdo our own physical limitation. That we can't listen to an old album on vinyl in the dark. That we can't tell someone a secret and expect them to keep it. That we can't inhale the pages of a fifty year old book written in a language we cannot read but which we love, almost as if by accident, because we're as human as its author.
Don't close the door on your joy because you think it's what's expected of you.