One beautiful spring Saturday I took a bike ride on the Cady Way Trail. I chose the Cady Way because it’s usually less crowded with pedestrians compared to the trail around Lake Baldwin. Seeking solitude, I rode alone. However, I made sure my iPhone was tucked into the small case under my seat. I had no specific time to return and I could go as far as I wanted on the 7.2 trail which links Orlando and Winter Park.
As I pedaled I took in the sights and sounds around me. Birds chirped loudly from high atop live-oak trees. Dingy strings of Spanish moss swayed in the gentle wind. Busy squirrels scampered along in search of their breakfast. One friendly cyclist waved hello as he passed from the opposite direction. I felt myself relax as I pedaled further. I felt free, and I absorbed my new found freedom like a sponge.
Eventually I neared the bridge which crosses Route 436. I powered up by pedaling as fast as I could before reaching the base of the incline. Here the trail becomes very steep. I pushed forward with all my strength in order to reach the top without standing or getting off my bike. Whew! I made it and glanced down at the busy traffic below me. People going here, there, and everywhere. My view shifted to the path ahead, and I let myself coast to the bottom. Elated, I felt like a kid again!
Then I remembered all the times I rode my bike as a child. We had a hill on our street which everyone called “Big Hill.” My brothers and I were only allowed to ride to the top of the hill and back. But what a joyful ride it was. We felt like we ruled everything around us when we looked down. We hooped and hollered as we coasted to the bottom. Today I didn’t scream. I didn’t think that was a very adult thing to do. I also wear a helmet now, which we never did as kids.
Lately, I’ve been trying to reach my inner child. The little girl within me, who somehow got lost when I became an adult. The child who loved to play and imagine. The child who was not afraid to take risks. The child who created.
Ten years ago I met my inner child when I started writing poetry. I had just retired from teaching, and had plenty of free time. I remembered I liked poetry as a teenager. So my inner child inspired me to write verse. It was her voice that helped me put the best words in the best order. I wrote because I loved to write. I had no other reason. My friends told me I had talent. My family was impressed. When my first poem was published in Time of Singing Magazine I let out a hoop just like the little girl who rode her bike down Big Hill.
I continued to write, I continued to be published. I continued to celebrate. I created a blog, I wrote magazine articles, and I authored children’s books. Now I’m editing a quarterly creative writing magazine. But all of these achievements came with a price. With each success I became busier and busier and somehow the voice of my inner-child became drowned out by adult expectations and the pressure to keep achieving. So that’s why I’m out riding my bike in search of my inner child who played all day— who left after breakfast and didn’t come home until dinner.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, refers to our inner child as our artist-child. She believes getting in touch with the artist-child within us releases new levels of creativity. This makes me wonder why are children more creative than adults?
Children think in the realm of possibility. They can imagine they can visit places they have only seen one time. They can pretend they are at an amusement park, and ride all the rides again, or even draw their own imaginary amusement park. Nothing is impossible for them. Is that why Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to children?
As adults our imagination has been hampered by what we feel unable to do. The world of the adult is based upon compliance with rules and regulations. Adults have experienced rejections and failures. Maybe our creativity was scorned by our boss. Perhaps our manuscript was rejected by an editor. Unless we are Peter Pan, all of these life experiences cause us to doubt ourselves and prevent us from playing.
How can an adult become more creative? Julia Cameron believes we can get in touch with our artist-child by doing some of the things we enjoyed in our childhood. Try it. You might be surprised to see the world through a child’s eyes again. What seems impossible might become possible.