Essay Non-fiction Wish

Life Lessons from Hula Hooping Toddlers

Emily Ford reminds us that, sometimes, it's okay to be childish.

by Emily Ford

I was at a random street party in my neighbourhood, the free kind, the kind with quirky folk bands ranting about class, the kind with Morris dancing and Arabic bread. You know . . . the usual . . .

It was glorious sunshine. The drinks were flowing.

And yet . . . while I was watching POG reject their middle class heritage via warbling vocals and banjos, I was checking my phone for emails, messages, my mind was wandering towards that list of things I have to do that never gets done. That worst of all chores, banking, crept into the fray. I started thinking forward, towards that inevitable working week that begins at the end of every Sunday evening . . .

Thank goodness I was distracted from this downwards spiral of depression by a young girl, maybe four years old, holding a hula hoop. It had a diameter the length of her entire body and she was attempting to spin it around her waist to the music. I know – n’aww bless. She was about to throw a tantrum because it wouldn’t dance around her like it did for the fully grown people, who didn’t care as much anyway. The upper lip was trembling. The face was getting red. Life is so unfair.

But just in time, in swooped Dad, to the rescue. He picked up the hoop and spun it round and round, while the free spirit carni in the middle lost her shit and danced in circles, giggling. The day was made. Maybe the year. Christmas had come early, life didn’t get much better than this. I watched this all unfold, nostalgic.

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Do you remember a time when happiness was a simple hoop of plastic away? Do you remember when life was so easily turned around? (Pun intended.)

One little girl shut her eyes, opened her arms wide and giggled her way round in circles. And I thought, this little girl has got it right. This tiny child, barely out of her toddler tantrums, is smarter than most grown working adults. There’s only one key to happiness. It’s called allowing yourself to be happy.

So where, in her situation, I would have said ‘but I didn’t achieve this’ and fallen into (another) existential crisis, and where others might have resented and feared the lack of control of a revolving world taken out of their hands, our hulaing heroine let it all go. She focused on the most important thing: she was now hulaing. What she had wanted, came about, through love. A happiness barred had become a happiness attained. She didn’t bitch and moan about the social implications or the environmental impact of a toy made from plastic. She processed the event like so: something happened. It was great. IT’S SO FUCKING SIMPLE.

I’m taking a leaf out of hula heroine’s book. I’m going to let myself enjoy things just because they’re enjoyable. I’ll let happiness in, via simple stand alone moments.

Because, okay, things have long term implications. But they’re never what we expect them to be anyway. So really, the only accurate thing to say is this: life is a thing counted. We just add all the moments together. So why on earth wouldn’t you start by making each moment the sum of what your whole life could be?

Originally posted on 1 Life Laughing

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