In the beginning, everything was alive. The smallest objects were endowed with beating hearts, and even the clouds had names. Scissors could walk, telephones and teapots were first cousins, eyes and eyeglasses were brothers. The face of the clock was a human face, each pea in your bowel had a different personality, and the grille on the front of your parents’ car was a grinning mouth with many teeth. Pens were airships. Coins were flying saucers. The branches of trees were arms. Stones could think, and God was everywhere.
Payne seized her. They grappled lovingly among the hampers. A famous man says that we go through life with “a diminishing portfolio of enthusiasms”; and these, these, these children, these these these these little children will soon not be able to feel this way about anything again.
With the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood, it’s so easy to lose our sense of wonder about the world around us. To lose the sense of awe, of joy, of appreciation of all of life’s little beauties. It almost fees predestined; that we were always meant to let go of childish things. This is an unnecessary sacrifice that diminishes us. We can pay our bills, get the kids to school and still take time to pause and revel in the parade of amazement that surrounds us. Your elderly neighbor’s smile. The bees pollinating your azaleas. The sound of crickets lulling you to sleep at night.
Last week I was sitting outside reading when a hummingbird came to my feeder. She must have been surprised to see me, because she flew up eight inches from my face, paused, studied me, cocking her head side to side, for at least ten seconds. It felt like an eternity—a life within a life—and I felt a deep sense of joy, of connection and utter wonder. What a gift. A gift I may have been denied if I was off being distracted or engaged in some escapist nonsense.
Relearning to be childlike is not childish. Our senses become dulled to the artistic majesty of the world overtime. We tend to take things for granted and thereby devalue them. We need to reignite our passion for the awe around us. Watch a child’s face when they hold a frog or roll down a hill. We can have that, too.
How? Here’s a few easy things to try.
Pause. Stop. Look.
Take a few moments each day and stop everything you’re doing and just breathe and look. What is around you? Appreciate the craftsmanship of your desk. Notice the dazzling color of the strawberries on your salad. Run your fingers through the grass.
Do something artsy.
Preferable something tangible and tactile. Sculpt, make ceramics or get your fingers into messy paint. Engage all your senses. Breathe in the wood, the oils, the stone. Feel the texture of the canvas, the spin of the wheel. Let your body share this space with your mind and your soul.
Find a way to play.
Find something and do it for the mere joy of it. Not to win, not prove something, not to get fit. Nothing goal-oriented. Do it for the sole reason of creating pure, silly joy.
Ask a child.
Ask a child what they think the cloud looks like. Ask him what the two squirrels in the tree might be talking about. Ask her what she thinks the people on Mars like to wear. You will be surprised but not disappointed. Again, pure, silly joy.
Find your inner child, the one that loved to play, to see, to experience the world as a big wide place of magical wonder and let the adult in you share space with him.
My book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live an Unconventional Life Without Starving In the Process is out now. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian
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