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Posted 03-06-08 at 04:19 PM by SMSPirate
Can we all relax?

Can we all relax?

The scene a couple of weeks ago was pretty typical for folks like me. I was in a great euphoric state of creativity. Professionally, I was in the groove. I had my mojo on and things were flying out of my brain and onto the page….I could do no wrong! Suddenly my boyfriend said it – "honey, why don't you just relax?"

I WAS relaxed! I was having a great time! Are people on vacation, scuba diving with man eating sharks, relaxed? Is that why they jump out of airplanes?

It is time to suggest that relaxing is seldom about getting away from the actual physical act of doing a job. When you're in the right job, the stuff that makes you crazy is usually not the job itself, but worrying about if you're late, worrying about traffic getting there and home, and worrying about whether you are good enough at your job to keep it. A lot of the stress comes from knowing that you don't get to be the judge. If you're a parent, "they" aren't just judging you, they're judging your kids as well. Just relax?

Relaxing – getting rid of the tension - means getting rid of the 'act''; getting the permission and the time and the money to be you. I think what most kids are upset with these days is the constant scrutiny they are under to be good at everything, while the things they love to do go unnoticed, un-rewarded, and un-harvested, (pun intended, I suppose). Kids have an uncanny ability to spot the difference. Teenagers, by the way, are all about testing and trying out rules, so if you're not living what you're saying, be very afraid. I think we lose the ability more and more as life goes on – working, struggling, and (how crazy is this?) trying to find the time to relax. We know the satisfaction of a difficult thing learned and well done. We know the world is full of things we must do, rather than what we would like to be doing. And therein it all lies - what we must do. What must we do?

Last time, I wrote about trying to fit into everyone else's box. I wrote about what it is doing to us, physically and emotionally, when we try to live the lies. As I watch yet another ad on TV talk about how good it is not to be in anybody's box, and how wealth and investment opportunities come only, in fact, when you are finally able to break out of the box, I wonder what our kids must be thinking.

As school starts, I'd like to get some of the parents out there to think about report cards to come. When you see the usual "good" grades in certain subjects and "bad" grades in others, what do you say? Most households, including my own until recently, sounded something like this: "Well, you always do good in math…. But why aren't you good in English too?" We say it because kids who don't get good grades or consistent grades, get marked into categories of "slow," and not "advanced." We like the sound and the meaning and the metaphor behind that "advanced" word a lot better. Breaking out of the locked in concept that better equals more is worth the effort.

Kids are pretty good at figuring things out for themselves these days. They have to be. We're actively teaching them to be, whether you realize it or not. Most kids have interacted with a computer long before they get there in school. They start interacting with TV days, if not hours, after they are born. So as the little ones out there are learning how to tap out "A" and "B" and learning how to read online in an interactive world of pretty pictures and electronic rewards, they are learning to learn by themselves. If you doubt it, check out the CBT (computer-based training) industry, not to mention the rest of the computer and entertainment world today. Good as this may sound, what happens when the ABCs aren't fun or rewarding to learn at school? What then, do they learn? What do we teach them while they're there? My 14 year old told me recently that all his friends agree – they learn to survive. Ahhhh school days…….

I have a suggestion to start a little positive action happening. It might stir things up a bit, and it might make a lot of ripple effects happen; but, if anyone is brave enough to join me, here's what I'm telling my 14 year old to say to a teacher when he starts getting bored or having trouble in class; but, beware! Herein lie the seeds of revolution. Revolution? No – Evolution! It sounds something like this:

"I really want to do good in here, and since I really like things like science and reading, and I think I want to be a doctor, can you tell me what this has to do with those things, so I can find a way for me to learn?"

If you've ever wondered about the durability and downright love the world has developed for the book character, Harry Potter, here's the appeal mystery answered. Harry actually gets to go out and do something meaningful, and teaches the meaning of that to his friends. If that isn't a new idea for you to wrap yourself around, you heard the message somewhere before- like in every single religious, job-finding, psychological and self-help book or theory ever made. Meaning equals more. More equals meaning.

Before I go on, I have to tell you, I thought I'd better call my 14 year old and check this all out. When we got to the part about, "what do we teach them while they're there?" he said, "yeah, we figure out that drugs are a great way to get through school." I know my kid is not doing drugs. They used to be prescribed for him – we "just said no." Even though part of the remark was certainly a joke, we even laughed about it – then, he went on to say, "Really, mom – ya know what I'm saying?" I think I do. And we complain about their lack of motivation and think we can measure it with test scores. He said more….

When I got to the part about what I want him to say, he jumped in – "Yeah, and I get thrown out of class for causing trouble!" He was lauging, but then he said he would love to do it because it was also, incidentally, what he really wants to say!

It seems that right from the start, we teach our kids how not to relax. Today, they can't relax at school for what, I think, are reasons I've made obvious. They go home, and they can't relax again, because the time alone, with the computer, with pals, with trying to connect the dots of family and life, are constantly being interrupted by the things everyone is complaining about around them, but that everyone seems to be conforming to despite their obvious misery. I'll say it again, kids are pretty good at figuring things out. Is it any wonder they don't want to go into this with passion and why many of them refuse to go quietly?

Why not actively seek out meaning instead of more? The next time your kids come to you, or your boss, and the problem is understanding what in the world it has to do with anything that interests you – why not ASK? If your child gets a "bad" grade, have a chat with them and find out what they like about the subject and what they don't. Find out if it has any real meaning. If they can't see it, show it to them. We sit with them when they're two with the little activity books and show them how to connect the dots… let's really start to show them how to connect the dots when the activity books are long ago pastimes.

When we're relaxed we're doing things that are meaningful. We don't have to be resting on a beach somewhere. We don't have to be eating or smoking or partying. We end up doing those things when we try to eek out some meaning when we try to find the time to relax. We tell ourselves and others that we're doing it so we can relax. We shouldn't have to fight to relax. We should be relaxing by creating something or experiencing things that have deep and special meaning for us. When dopamine is up – basically, you're happy. When you combine it with the adrenaline of figuring things out, experiencing things with passion and zeal, the combination is unforgettable. All you have to do is relax.
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