“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement,” Rachel Carson once wrote. “It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”
It is true that as we move into adulthood, we face challenges, assume responsibilities, suffer disappointments, and find our waking hours filled with adult tasks. Some claim that grown-ups who retain some childlike behaviors should grow up, yet they often marvel at, enjoy, maybe even envy those who live in the moment and approach life with playful abandon.
Ironically, many think today’s children are forced to grow up too soon because they are placed in so many structured activities and exposed to more of the adult world than they perhaps should be. On the other hand, people from adolescence through advanced ages don’t feel they can give themselves permission, in playwright Tom Stoppard’s words, to “carry your childhood with you.”
Like so many of life’s paradoxes, we can convert this seeming either-or into a both-and approach that enriches our lives at any chronological age or state of development.
Sure, we may be busy, responsible and engaged in career, family and community, but we don’t have to let worries and fears keep us from enjoying activities associated with being a kid. Consider some of the ways we can be childlike today. On her website, www.tinybuddha.com, Lori Deschene offers these and other suggestions (http://tinybuddha.com/blog/33-ways-to-be-childlike-today/):
Learn: Fill out your own permission slip to go to the aquarium, a museum or a nearby tourist attraction. If something looks interesting, take a break and go!
PLAY: Be silly. Look for funny things in your day and let yourself laugh about them.
CONNECT: Make a spontaneous play date. Invite people over right now, for no reason but to have fun.
CREATE: Assume you’d be really good at something — piano, rock climbing, organizing a club — and then find out, instead of assuming the opposite.
BE: Relax and do nothing. Don’t try to fill that empty pocket of time. You’ve been productive enough. Kick back, cut loose and let yourself waste a little time.
IMAGINE: Visualize a tomorrow with endless possibilities.
“It is never too late to have a happy childhood,” writes novelist Tom Robbins. What childlike quality in you is ready and eager to enjoy today?