Pillows, blankets, stacks of books, and dining room chairs are currently the decorations of choice in our living room. My son is going through a fort building stage and we’re lucky we’ve been able to contain it to the living room. If he had his druthers, we would also have fort kitchen, fort bathroom, fort laundry room, and fort front yard.
I loved building forts as a kid, and I am very glad my son has an interest in it, too. My son’s favorite part of fort building is knocking down sections of the fort to do renovation work. A room might have been too small or maybe it had a window he didn’t like or the roof was too saggy. Once the room is down, he declares it to be broken and then begins the rebuilding process. After a room is finished, the whole family is invited to visit the new space, where we discuss the renovation and how it is preferable to its earlier condition and then play drums and harmonicas or pretend to take naps (fort construction is hard work).
My son’s obsession with forts has reminded me how truly simple it can be to pursue the life you desire. My son likes building forts, so he builds forts. He doesn’t talk about building forts or wish he were building forts or make excuses for why he can’t build forts, he simply builds forts. When he is tired of fort building, he will play with trains because he wants to play with trains or whatever interest is next on his agenda. Unless I tell him he can’t do something because it’s unsafe (like building a fort inside the stove), he’ll do whatever it is he wants to do.
Unlike toddlers, as we grow older and mature, we take on more responsibilities, allow unwanted things to come into our life, and living the life of our dreams becomes more difficult. We are easily distracted by things that don’t really matter to us. We also let doubts and worry and negative messages invade our brains so that we stop doing the things we really want to do. Clutter comes in and prevents us from building forts (or whatever it is you enjoy doing).
I’m not suggesting it’s bad that you are responsible for the people and things in your life. Those of us who aren’t insanely wealthy have to work to pay bills and provide for ourselves and our families. Rather, I’m suggesting you get rid of all of the stuff that doesn’t matter. Get rid of the clutter (extraneous physical stuff, negative thoughts, bad relationships, commitments that don’t interest you) so you can have time, energy, and resources to use on what matters to you. If you want to spend more quality time with your family, unclutter the distractions and start spending more quality time with your family. Embrace your inner toddler, and simply do it.
Identify what matters most to you, identify the distractions that are keeping you from the things that matter, and do your best to remove the clutter so you can pursue the life you desire. Life is too short — even if you live to be 102 — not to build forts or laugh with your children or catch up with a dear friend or volunteer at your favorite charity or lend your neighbor a hand in a time of need or meditate or go on an adventure.