A few days ago I had the privilege of spending some time with my neighbour’s children. It was one of those rare Sundays when I really didn’t have too much running in my head, other than preparing for Monday’s busyness. Thus, I thought to fulfil my promise to hang-out with the three young boys. It indeed was a great time spent for me, as I for once, had the opportunity to be a child again, reliving the years when all I ever thought about was food, football and video games. It was in the midst of it that the reality hit me how beautiful it really is to be like a child and how much we adults miss, by being too grown-up.
The dictionary describes a child as “A person who is below the age of adulthood; a minor gloss person who is below the age of responsibility or accountability.” This is one of several definitions I stumbled across in a bid to get a good description of a child. What I found fascinating with the definitions I came across, is the emphasis on “not being responsible and accountable” as key attributes of a child. More often than not, many grown-ups have used the phrase “Why are you acting like a child?” to correct an erring person.
It takes a fool not to auto-correct when such statement is said to one. What many of us lose is the beauty that comes with being a child. The world around us has become so complex that even children do all they can to shake off the “child” toga – acting like adults, at every opportunity given. Our world today is filled with people who live as though they were never children.
As I played around with my young neighbours, seeing them laugh, shout, run, play pranks and dance (to their own music), I realised how much I (and many supposed adults) had missed by being too grown-up. Casting my mind back through my childhood days, I began to see the many traits of children, which majority of us adults discount, but which the few who have held on to it, have gone on to achieve phenomenal and ground-breaking success. A typical child is;
I tried to count how many times I defied my parents’ warnings to stay away from somewhere, or stay back at home, only to find my way there eventually. At this times, although they tried dangling the stick of punishment before me, it just wasn’t enough to deter me from going in there. Many a child is ready to go into the thick of the bush in search of an earthworm, or even in pursuit of a bird. Andre Gide once said that “Man cannot discover new oceans, unless he has the courage to lose sight of the sea” The key word here being courage.
Oftentimes as we get older, it seems as though most of us lose our courage base. We’ve gotten our fingers burnt one too many times from supposed adventurousness and become laid back to try anything new. The typical child almost has no baggage of past mistakes to hold on to and so keeps trying out new things. The adult on the other hand carries on his many mistakes and would rather analyse every situation to be sure of the factors and variables before taking a step of action. While this is good, it is sometimes helpful if we just let go in some moments. Just perhaps our Facebook or Apple ideas lurks in those moments.
Playful (full of energy)
If there is any word that can be an easy synonym for a child, it must be “Play.” Every child loves to play, regardless of race, gender, economic status, or geographic location. Although the games of play acts may vary, what remains the same is the happiness they exude in those moments, laughing heartily, swinging from side to side, running and jumping around without a care in the world who is watching. While it is a fact that every adult today played in such manner while a child, it remains baffling where/when the joy of playing began to vanish. Remember the days of never ending games of hide and seek? The whole day was basically play time. We all were little people who were free from society’s expectations, not lost in the past or managing the future, just deeply immersed in the now.
Children don’t try to control or suppress their energy; They simply let it express itself in the most natural way in the moment. They don’t think, “ hey, look at the beautiful butterfly, I wonder where it’s going? Should I chase after it? Will I look stupid?” No, they just feel the energy bubble up inside and spontaneously allow it to happen, no thinking just felling. By not suppressing their energies and allowing it to flow, they are constantly tapping into that inner source of divine energy.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, events happen that takes of that divine energy derived from play, instead we are all serious faced and heavy headed as we trudge about our day’s business. Not that I expect adults to jump around without a care on the road or in a business meeting, I just think we should take some time out and just let-off some steam; go to the beach with friends, playing some beach soccer, sack race, or even an athletics contest; build sand castles, play with mud a few times. Whatever it is, just try out something new that would make you laugh out loud and roll back the years of childhood exuberance.
It is not a new sight to see more children participate in and win art competitions. Children compete with even adults in art, poetry and dance contests, wowing the audience with their amazing skills and talents. A quick reminder will be the case of young Amarachi who won the 2011 edition of Nigeria’s Got Talent, beating many equally talented adults to the coveted prize. Pablo Picasso was apt in his quote where he stated that “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
Often times I try to wonder where all the child prodigies who displayed so much talent growing up ended up. Across all fields of creative endeavour, a quick survey would bring one to the realisation that if 10 percent of adults retained the creative genius they exhibited as children, the world would perhaps be a different place today.
Many adults have become caught up in the pursuit of happiness. The search for daily bread and trying to conform to society’s definition of work has made many adults lose sense of their creative genius. Think of how many Music producers that have gotten lost working as bank tellers, or art painters struggling as office assistants in a government establishment. Bill Hewlett sums it up, by stating that; “creativity is an area in which younger people have a tremendous advantage, since they have an endearing habit of always questioning past wisdom and authority.” The truth in this quote lies in the fact that many of us adults have chosen not to question the impressions and expectations that society has placed on us, rather we have opted to conform. It is in asking questions and looking for possible solutions to them that we may perhaps be able to bring out the creative child in us. Remember, when in doubt, seek knowledge.
The average child is a dreamer. Attempting to discuss this will be an over flogging. If in doubt, walk into a classroom filled with young children, ask them what their desired future ambitions are, and you for sure would be wowed at their responses. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them responded that he would love to be the President of the United States. Their dreams usually are undiluted by the perspectives of parents, society and economic realities, which many of us adults have become burdened with. While I agree that many of these dreams seems impossible, I’m always awed by the depths of some of these dreams and the enormous power that dreaming carries. The power to dream is what many of us adults have lost. In the midst of the chaos that our society currently is, the ability of many of us to dream of something different is a major factor that has crippled our abilities to move beyond current realities and work out more desirable outcomes.
Oh, how wonderful if adults get to dream again,
what beauty they would bring to the society,
what sanity they would pour into the world
And what comfort would the world always bear
Only if adults become children and try to dream again
I really can imagine how many songs have remained unsung, how many books have remained unwritten, movies remained unscripted and inventions remained unimagined, simply because many people have let go of their capacity to dream again.
I do not claim that these are all the traits that makes children unique, as there remains an exhaustive list of many others; Persistence, forgiving nature, happiness, among others. These are but a few of the many childlike traits that the world has become deprived of because many people have chosen to instead remain too grown up. As we go into this new year, I only wonder how beautiful it would be if we ‘adults’ decide to LET THE CHILD IN US COME ALIVE.