LIFE AS IT LIVES US
Out driving today, at one point just sitting there waiting for a light to change, I saw a little girl in a bright jacket, 8 or 9 years old, arms raised, spinning, dancing and smiling by herself in the winter sun on the otherwise empty village roadside.
I thought at first that she was talking to someone and sharing some laughter, but when I turned and looked around I saw no one else there; she was singing and laughing to herself. Her mood and manner, of dancing, smiling, singing all by herself and for no one else beside a country road, happy alone on a cold winter morning when expressing joy to the max topped her list of things to do, made me happy too, and I suppose happified any other lucky drivers who later chanced to receive this spontaneous gift as they were passing by.
Then the light changed and I went on my adult way, yet wondering at the unusual nature of this feeling. There was something else to this joy, that seemed to be only in response, but that in fact was partly my own. I realized that another great joy of children, apart from the gift they are, the gift they bring, and the gift they give, is that they evoke in us the children we ourselves once were. There are tremendous depths to this gift, to realizing that the children we were, we are still; they are there intact within us, like the grain in a tree, a lifetime cored with its earliest years, and because they are there they strengthen us, they quicken our soul, give us integrity and are grateful to be acknowledged...
Folks of the type often called wise say that to relate to a child you must go to the child’s level. Kind of a locked-in adult way of looking at it, that from where you always are you must always bend down, lower your eminent self, yet continue being the grown-up, as though it’s all you are. Children feel that prejudice at once.
A child’s life is a search for true companions, and when to a child who is now in the world you become the child you still are, the child out there who caused this miracle is delighted, knowing her age like none other, and recognizing it in you. Thanks to them we are led to those children we were, whose easy presences we are so pleased to realize - whether we know it or not - still reside in our lives, waiting to exist again. They are a joy in us to re-become; yet so seldom can that can happen in our multistrictured world: that normal, busily obligated, mannered, social, employed, public, cultured world where too often we spend our entire adulthoods until they are gone.
So stop and enjoy the gift of children, who bring childhood back to life in those who have left it for too long; children from whom we learn that over and over again we can be 10 years old, we can be 5, we can be 2, we can even be an infant in our arms, looking into our own eyes, learning that we have never left, that life does not begin or end, unless we keep it to ourselves...