We all play multiple roles in life, and sometimes it is easier, or feels more natural for certain particular roles to be played out than for others, and, conversely, it is also easy to not play certain roles.
Sometimes those roles are best described by their titles: father, mother, brother, son, friend, colleague, boss, ditch digger, etc. Other times they are described by their qualities, and often these are assigned some sort of name as a way to differentiate them, either in a classical way, like the King, the Fool, the Wise One, etc., or perhaps following some system, like the Myers Briggs Personality labels, (INFP, for example).
Classic literature is yet another way to define roles, to use characters to describe and define a role or a part of life that we each will play out at some point in life. There are many great examples for this, and today I’m choosing those characters that reside in the 100 Acre Wood: Winnie-the-Pooh and friends.
In particular, I want to point out the character of Roo, Kanga’s young joey. He is playful and full of spirit. As the youngest character he also is able to get away with doing and saying things that the older ones can’t – or at least the older ones don’t give themselves permission to do or say. And that’s what I want to point out: giving ourselves permission to say or do something that our older self wouldn’t. A psychologist may describe this role as our “young-one” versus our “adult-one”. When was the last time you allowed your young self to be expressed, to say or do something that you otherwise wouldn’t?
This role of Roo should be embraced by everyone at least once per day. It doesn’t have to be a beg thing that will define your life. It can be small and unobtrusive. In my experience, the more you do it, the easier it will be to do.
One example that came to my mind this morning is to ask a question of someone about something you don’t know. As the young one, it’s easy to “allow” Roo to ask a question because he’s young – how could he possibly know? As an adult, perhaps we think we should already know the answer, and to ask is admitting that I don’t know, and I might then appear to be foolish or unintelligent, or any number of other roles. But, those other roles don’t apply to Roo – he’s simply young and asking a question: “where does honey come from?”, or “what makes the kite fly?”.
As an adult, we perhaps think that we should know these things already, so we won’t ask the questions. If we instead embrace our own inner Roo and allow ourselves to ask a question, at least once each day, then in the end we will have more answers to things then when we started. We will be role-modeling to others how to get answers, and break down barriers to allow all of us to let out our Roo.
Once he’s out, then it becomes easier and easier to do other Roo-like things, like play games and have fun (like Pooh sticks!). And don’t we all want to have more fun?