The recent newscasts on Radical Unschooling, and subsequent online and in person conversations with other unschoolers, have spurred an epiphany for me.
Not about unschooling specifically. I'm already decided and happily so on that point. We are definitely whole life unschoolers. My aha moment is about living my joy, sharing it with others, not to convince them of its rightness, but simply because I want my joy to be completely savored, to infuse my every moment. Not only can JOY and fear not co-exist, joy can't even fully co-exist with reluctance or when hidden.
For much of my life, I've hidden my joy from my own family of origin (sometimes going to great lengths), and of course, from most other people, too. The notable exception is that I never hide my joy from Gary or our children, because I know they completely 'get' me, and won't laugh at what makes me feel joyous.
Growing up, I quickly realized that what I celebrate as joy and wonder, others viewed as naivete, irresponsibility, idealism. I was dismissed and mocked for my joy. I was told I was mistaken, that really what I celebrated wasn't worthy of celebration; that I should aspire to more 'important' things than just happiness.
So, I learned to hide my joy from them, as a way to protect it, to keep my own soul safe. Those experiences left me reluctant to show my joy to anyone, lest they use it to criticize and wound me. I also resented feeling like I had to explain or defend my joy to anyone, especially those who purported to love me. Soon, I was hiding my joy from teachers, all adults, school friends (I wouldn't want my fanciful ideas to cause them to dislike me), and sometimes even myself. I was afraid to be joyful because it was one more thing 'they' could take from me. Experience tells me that first they'll do their best to sully my joy, to shame me into letting go of it, and if that doesn't work they'll try to deny me it outright.
And while I know, in the depths of my soul, that my joy is real -- that no one can take it from me -- I still tend to hide it. It's an old habit. For years, I was afraid they were right -- that I wasn't worthy of real joy. That no one is, because joy and happiness are the panacea of the ignorant. Today, when I hide my joy, I tell myself it's because the naysayers aren't worth my time and energy, and I can quietly go about my life, keeping my joy hidden in the shadows. Really, tho, it's because I don't want to feel like I have to fight for my right to live joyously. The truth is I DON'T HAVE TO! How cool is that?! And how freeing!
I don't really fear 'them' now, but still I let my old habits of hiding hold me back. I walk around expecting a fight, expecting to be told I'm wrong, that the world isn't the way I want it to be, the way I know it can be. That tendency to hide my joy dampens my active enjoyment, tho.
I see now that what I need for my joy to be truly full is to live that joy out loud. Not with a sense of belligerence that I don't care what others think, but with a full embracing that joy exists, in me, around me, simply because joy IS. And because hidden joy cheats me and those I love. Joy is meant to shared and lived out loud.