Recapturing childhood feelings sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it? Once again experiencing days—or even moments—of innocence, wonder, or naïve joy.
Difficult perhaps. But not impossible.
Sometimes it even happens when we’re not expecting it, as was the case with me a couple of nights ago. Trying to get the dog to do her pre-bedtime “business,” I was wandering around my front yard at 10 pm on a hot, humid night. Right in front of my face, a lightning bug flashed, making me laugh out loud.
As more fireflies blinked on and off across the yard, I had an urge to find a mayonnaise jar, poke holes in the lid, and start collecting. Without trying, I remembered jumping around barefoot in my South Carolina front yard, clapping my hands softly together to capture (but not injure) the insects.
Once headed down Memory Lane’s path, I can remember it all. The heat of the night, the thrill of being up past bedtime, the grass underneath my feet and, once or twice at least, doing it in my night gown. Afterward, I’d bring my jar inside and would study the bugs while their abdomens shone neon yellow. I also remember opening the jar back up outside, sending the fireflies forth with my best wishes for a happy future, blissfully unaware of the shortness of their life spans.
Revisit the things and places that made your heart sing.
Recapturing childhood moments is easier when you can reenact some part of the times or activities you’d like to remember. Think about what you loved as a child. Nature? Singing? Camping outside? Visiting Grandma?
Reframe your motives.
Gretchen Rubin of Psychology Today suggests that part of the magic of recapturing childhood feelings lies in the way we think of things.
Do I view decorating the apartment for Halloween as a chore or as a pleasure? Do I think it’s tiresome or fun to shop for school supplies? I’ve been surprised by how readily I can steer my attitude.
Recapturing childhood feelings might require putting your dignity aside.
It comes down to engagement.
Often, it isn’t so much a case of memories evading us, as it is a case of us being out of practice in the arts of childhood. We don’t approach events with the innocence of a lack of self-awareness.
That’s understandable, especially if we don’t have children in our lives modeling that behavior. We’re keenly aware of other people’s opinions of us. Contrast that to a kid’s reaction when you ask them if they can move their eyebrows independently. They try it without thinking how they’ll look.
Channel your frustrations onto paper.
There are some moments we just can’t regain. When you can’t recapture childhood feelings, write. Articulate your disappointment for others.
For example, try as I might to steep my self in that childhood mindset that seven days was absolutely Too Long to wait for Christmas to come, it doesn’t work. As a child, that was for-ev-er. As an adult, my to-dos banish the metaphorical sugar plums and impatience out of my head. I’m stressed, trying to make everything nice for the family.
Likewise, I can’t recover that feeling of being tucked into my bed by my parents and falling asleep without a niggle of doubt that something bad might happen during the night.
I know it can. There is no escaping that reality.
In such cases, we can write about those ethereal moments and emotions. When did they occur? How did you feel? Why do they remain out of reach? What have you done to provide them to the children in your life? Compare and contrast childhood’s perspective to adulting.
If you could recapture one childhood feeling, what would it be? How would you try to facilitate it? After you comment below (pretty please?), sit down and start writing.