When my daughter was in elementary school, she came home one day excited about her gymnastics unit in P.E. She had barely finished her story when I said, “Well honey, let’s get you signed up for gymnastics classes!” She looked at me with amusement and said “Mom, I don’t want to take classes! I just had fun today.”

I have returned to this moment so many times in my own life and as I support clients who want to live a meaningful life.

We professionalize the crap out of everything! In Western culture especially, we seem to be pretty bad at letting ourselves tinker around the edges, resisting the urge to specialize or go buy a bunch of gear to “up our game.”

In the amazing book I am reading, Hidden Blessings: Midlife Crisis as a Spiritual Awakening, Jett Psaris talks about the grief many of us feel in midlife when we get in touch with the paths not taken. This is the moment we are liable to change careers, partners, or embark on professionalizing a hobby. Maybe some of those big changes are needed, but it’s most important to let ourselves tinker a bit:

“Once we have allowed space for the feelings [of nostalgia or regret], we must notice whether we still feel some energy or ‘juice’ around the path not taken. If so, it’s best to allow ourselves to revisit our unlived lives with the attitude of a dilettante. For example, if an unlived life as a dancer begins to rise up, we give ourselves permission to take a dance class. If we don’t enjoy the class, we give ourselves permission to drop out…Then we might notice an interest in improv, and, again, we follow the impulse until it is no longer interesting or appealing. What’s important at this stage is that we only respond when there is energy and interest…we are loosening the reins of the internal parent and allowing our spontaneous beings to explore, experience, and express themselves.”

I dog-eared this page like crazy. What a relief that this chaotic and dark time of midlife isn’t requiring me to set a bunch of goals! In fact, after I read this passage, I made some different decisions about my week and about my summer. Giving myself permission to tinker, be an amateur, have more fun, leave more things unfinished, not sign up for the gymnastics class but just tumble around instead.

Love and light to you, my friends, as you let your lives speak. Have some fun out there on the mats.