When I was a kid I used to make lots of messes.
I drew on the wall paper with crayons, I got my popsicle all over my face, my clothes, my arms, my hands, and anything within arms reach was doomed for sticky disaster. One time my step mom let me play with her lipstick. I was three. It was my lipstick, my eyeshadow, my blush, then pretty designs on my face, on the mirror, on the wall, and when I was done, I showed it all off with such pride! My older brother taught me the joys of playing like a little boy; scrapped knees, dirt everywhere, dandelion designs made from rubbing them on the skin, splashes of mud, black dirty buggers, and it was a blast. My sister and I rode bikes in a parking lot close by, it was a gravel parking lot with some pavement. We fell, a lot, trying to be stunt artist, jumps and weaves, wheelies and skid stops.
I remember the day we where out for hours, and we would stop, go home, clean our bloodied and scrapped knees, elbows, legs, pour on peroxide, cover with Neosporin and a band-aid, and then back out we went.
I was a messy kid. And I loved it. Every stupid, reckless, hilarious, joyful moment of it. I wasn’t messy because I was fearless. Fear was just a guide, helping me know what bushes not to touch, what tricks might be too dangerous to try. Yeah some of it was a process of learning those boundaries, but often it was more a process of pushing those boundaries. How well could I do a trick on my bike without falling, how much could I fully enjoy my popsicle in the warm sunlight, how quickly could I eat it even as it melted, how beautiful could I make myself look, or the world around me, how far could I dig in the dirt and what could I make out of all that dirt, how much fun could I have in living?
As children we are given freedom to be messy. We are allowed to mess up, to get dirty, to guide ourselves in what is fun. This is a part of growing, of learning. Then we are taught, to be an adult is to not be messy, but to be guarded, to be tidy, to know your role, your path, to go to college, to get a job, to raise a family, in some kind of perfect perimeter. We are taught a standard of living that is, if you step out of line, don’t do as you are told, aren’t the most beautiful, the most handsome, the smartest, the strongest, the most… then you are not good enough. This is taught by adults, by society, by culture. So when life becomes messy, guilt and shame become constant companions. After all, we are not supposed to be messy.
When I was about 13 I took a kiddy pool, filled it with dirt I bought from the local hardware store, then poured water into the pool until the dirt became mud. Then, with my oldest and crappiest swimsuit on, I got in, I got messy. I played in the mud. My only reason: to have fun. At first I felt ridiculous, I wasn’t a child, what was I doing!? Then, I stopped caring about “shoulds”, and felt the mud squish between my toes, my fingers, when I made a fist. Then I covered my legs, my arms, put silly designs on my belly, on my face, and I laughed. I laugh and I laughed and I laughed. The warm sun made the mud dry and crack on my skin, but it saved me from the cold of the mud. And when I got too hot, I just put cool mud on me, and relaxed.
Relax in to the mess that is life. Find the joys it brings. Do silly things and laugh at the silly things you do. Get scrapes and wounds but don’t let it stop you from getting back out there. Fear is merely our guide. When we let it define our life we loose our life Create beauty everywhere you can, whether it is a smile at a stranger, a drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, doing a good deed for another, or just plane being craft, leave the world a more beautiful place than you found it. Remember, the mess is what makes this life worth living because in it we find laughter, we find growth, we find lessons, we find sadness, we find hurt, we find strength, and eventually…. we find ourselves…
Do not hold yourself to a standard of a mess-less life, because life is messy. Find yourself in it. It’s your choice how you enjoy it.
Go get MESSY!