I’ve been spending my summer holidays with my young niece and nephews at a beach house our family owns. It’s been a reminder of what childhood means; the bumped knees, the laughter, the ice cream dropped, the occasional tears, and yes, the diapers. Most of all, these lazy days have brought back the glorious enthusiasm of the very young. At no other time in your life is the world so big, so thrilling, so new, and sometimes, so downright scary. Every flower and bug is worthy of deeper inspection. A minnow in a creek or a crab claw washed up on the sand are cause for endless wonder. Kids don’t talk about the weather, a schedule, what’s coming next, or what has been. Kids just ARE.
While adults ponder mindfulness and meditation in retreats and workshops, what I’ve noticed is this: children the world over are living in the here and now. When do adults lose this quality, one we quest after for years after it’s gone? It probably begins with school, when agendas and homework enter the picture, along with the concept of planning ahead. Just a guess, but one that seems like a logical beginning. The slippery slope continues with planned activities, electronics of course, and a society that programs us to want what we don’t have. By the time most of us enter our teens, wonder has been firmly replaced by hanging out with friends, first crushes, and the impossible dream of becoming an adult.
It’s a natural progression, and really, who would want to stay in childhood forever? But there is something essential, a living-for-the-moment, seat-of-your-pants delight, that’s lost in that transition. As adults we tend to become jaded to the simple pleasures of a footprint in the sand or a bumblebee drowsing by. Childhood, with its attendant drama and magic, its leaping exuberance and ravaging sorrow, remains a testament to living each sunny afternoon or rainy morning to its fullest. After bearing witness to these simple joys for the past few weeks, I’ve decided I want recapture a little piece of this truth and beauty. Here's my game plan:
Notice things, big and little (but mostly little)
Stop and smell the flowers
Laugh at silly things
Say hello and really mean it
Gaze at the sky
Listen to the birds, and the crickets too.
Oh, I’ll continue to be a responsible citizen. I’ll monitor my e-mails and calendar religiously - who could give that up?? Housework isn’t going anywhere, and I have a list of commitments as long as my arm. But every day, I’ll set aside time for play. More importantly, I will pause, and marvel at the wonderful world at our feet.