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What I Learned from Children

When we talk about memories and consciousness, and the first time that we can vividly remember something from our childhood, I think back to one specific moment. I was climbing a tree. It had a fence next to it to block our neighbors view. It was tall and knotted and perfectly suited to climb. Looking back on it, I’m not sure that I would still climb so high up a tree for fear of falling. That is the beautiful thing about children; they do, and then think, instead of thinking and then doing. There were bees up in that tree, and in fact, they were everywhere. I must have broken a record for the most individual incident bee stings as a child. I climbed until there were no more branches that would hold me, and then I just sat. I remember being very content just sitting in trees as a child. Everything was new and exciting and a potential adventure.

I liked to think.
I liked to imagine.

I wish I could remember what I thought about that day, but indeed that escapes me. We can’t remember everything, and maybe that is a good thing. It lets us escape into our imaginations. From here on out, I can write this story however I want.

At some point during our lives we stop thinking about our present moments as they are happening so often. We begin thinking about what is to come, how things will turn out, and how we can manipulate our own lives to look the way we would prefer. At some point, we lose that sense of adventure that only a child can live. We become aware of our surroundings, our choices, our consequences, our fears and our hopes. “Living in the moment” becomes “Living in a moment yet to come” and we focus our energy in some future that may or may not happen. We are living two lives. We are living in the present and the future, and for some, the past as well.

Do you remember how, as a child, time moved so slowly? A summer day felt like a lifetime, and school seemed to drag on for ages. You had no sense of time, only a sense of the now.

As an adult, you live in so many dimensions of time: past, present, and future. You become aware of the passing of time because you are thinking about the future, and how quickly it might come. You think about how much time you have to complete a project, or how little time you have in a day. You think about time, where children simply live in time.

There is no going back once you’ve stepped off of that edge, and inevitably we do step off. It is a natural part of growing up. But just because we are aware of the passing of time, or the dangers of climbing trees, doesn’t mean that we can’t embrace the calling of the wild: our inner child. We all have one. We do not all embrace it.

There is a big difference between growing up and growing old. We all grow old. It is something that I look forward to. With each passing birthday I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be alive, and how much that should be celebrated every day. I do not fear getting older, or old at all. I like living. I had my 26th birthday recently. Someone said, “Don’t you feel old?” The thought made me laugh. Ask me the same question at 70, and my reaction will be the same.

We do not all grow up. This is something entirely different. We might get older, we might change, we might have “adult” jobs or go to college or sit in a bar thinking, “I’ve grown up”. But be careful with these words. Do not allow yourself to grow up if growing up means losing your childhood.

We grow up and we suddenly believe that we know best, or even more disturbingly, that we know all. The key to a child’s mind is the fact that they know one thing for certain: they do not know everything. They seek new information, they try new things, they live in the moment. Age does not give you wisdom, and in fact, nothing will unless you seek it. What I have learned from children has been invaluable. What I have learned from myself as a child is astounding.

Believe your life is worth living. That is what childhood taught me. That is how I choose to live my adult life. That is how I hope everyone lives their lives.

Or, in one sentence: Go climb a tree.

 

 

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Janice Marie Foote | April 12, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Growing up to me means taking responsibility for one’s dreams on both sides of the coin. Going out into the wilds of one’s imagination and bringing back the experience to share with all. At the same time, watching out for the children so that they’re okay…and helping to show them they’re own way. ! Carpe Diem !

  2. Nicole | April 12, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Well said :) Happy Birthday

  3. Beata Rydén | April 15, 2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday Brooke!

  4. Sydney P Richardson | April 15, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    ‘…Age does not give you wisdom, and in fact, nothing will unless you seek it.’

    Beautifully said. I just love this phrase. It spoke to me! This entire post did. Come back to Texas soon!

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