Do you remember what it was like to be a child? No, seriously, do you? I received a reminder today to keep in touch with mine; Not the whiny, selfish brat that so many of the “self help” people talk about, but the real one — the one who used to spend minutes closely examining a leaf, or hours wandering around just enjoying the sensation of being alive, and the colors and shapes and smells of the world.
I think it is important to remember how to be child-like. That sense of wonder, the way everything seemed so fresh and interesting; The way that the question, “Why?” never got old. I like to think I’ve kept a good deal of my inner child alive and well, for all that the poor thing has seen a lot more than any child ever should. I still smile for sunrise and sunset. I still get all silly, soft, misty when I see old people holding hands, or kids laughing with that special abandon that is whole involvement in the moment.
Today, I spent a moment with my inner child smack dab in the middle of a parking lot. I had an errand to run and decided to pop by Starbucks for something hot and caffienated and a little bit of fluff pastry. Walking back to my car, I noticed a flock of birds in the adjacent lot and, in a flash, decided I wasn’t so hungry after all. They wheeled up and away as I approached of course, but there’s a certain delight in that too; All rush of wings and fanned breeze and the sounds of them startling that are an odd and interesting song. They quickly returned, of course, when the crumbs began to hit the ground.
The next few minutes were pure delight. Avian eyes and cocked heads and wings flashing territorial warning as well as excitement as they raced one another and chirped or whistled victory with a morsel clamped in beak. Carefully piecing it out, I stood surrounded, with those few aloft circling and crying as they tried to decide whether or not it was safe to come down and join the fray.
Do you remember what it is like to be awed and amused by nature? By all the ways the creatures around us mirror and mimic us? (Or we, them?) It was like a schoolyard flashback; the bullies and brahmas and brilliantly fearless strutting and striving for their little piece of nourishment. I have a decided bias for the underdogs and laughed for trying to get a piece of food to the shy and submissive ones who would leap into the middle but for the trouncing they fear for daring to do so. Occasionally pluck and luck combined and I got to cheer the smaller or less aggressive one as they darted off or leapt to sky with a bit of pastry prize to savor.
It was over all too quickly, as it usually is… and I stood there, inner child clappingly delightedly yet invisibly as the crowd dispersed. I walked back to my car, back to adulthood and responsibility and felt the cloak of it settling about my shoulders and just managed not to chide myself for being foolish and frivilous with food. Some things, I think, are more important than the silly rituals and mores we so often hold forth as “important to being adult”. The warmth of carefree, childish laughter still rings in the halls of my mind. Somewhere, in a cerebral playground, she is off chattering about the birds, likely to ol’ croc brain, who undoubtedly listens with a certain, weary resignation. Meanwhile, “the adult” sits here and types a bit of silly prose about an enjoyable moment and manages (if only barely) to remember how and why this is a meaningful, important, and beautiful part of life; One to be revisited often, savored deeply, and, when possible, shared.