Friday, December 10

To be like a child again

Finally finishing the semester has left me with extra time.  It feels like magic.  I've been spending most of my extra time these days with my nieces and nephews.  They're wild kids who I am deeply in love with and fiercely protective over.  They have brought a depth and a richness to my life that I can't explain and sometimes don't understand.  Hanging out with them has made me think about what it means to be like a child.

Kids are unabashedly honest.  They don't know any differently.  They say what mean without thinking about how it sounds or how it makes them seem.  While some of what they say is embarrassing or down right mean, it's refreshingly honest--something my speech could sometimes use a little more of.  Kids also aren't ashamed to love what they love.  If they love climbing trees, they'll run around covered in grass stains.  They don't care what they look like or how them seem to other people.  What other people think isn't important.  They're doing what they love.

One of my favorite things about kids is that they know how to dream with abandon.  My nieces and nephews want to be doctors and lawyers and ballerinas.  And who am I to tell them differently?  When I was little I wanted to be a lion tamer, a teacher, and the first woman president.  When I was 10, I was convinced I was going to be Jane Austen.  Kids naturally have reckless dreams.  They don't know phrases like "You can't do that," or "that's not practical."  We're the ones who tell them that.  They have the courage to dream with freedom and to believe good things can come true.  To be like that again, to be so convinced that what lives in your heart is possible, is beautiful to me.

I remember trying to explain the concept of money to one of my nieces.  After a few minutes of frustration, I kept telling her "It pays for things.  It buys stuff."  I just repeated phrases like that thinking, eventually she'll get it.  After ten more minutes, I remember insisting, "It's important."  She smiled at me and said, "Why?  It's just green pieces of paper."

Whenever the power went out as a kid, I fell in love with life all over again.  There was a magic and a simplicity in how everything simply stopped.  Responsibilities seemed temporarily suspended, like life was hanging in midair so that we could have a day to really live in each other's company.  The TV was broken, the radio didn't work, phones ran out of battery, and everything that seemed to normally fill our days was exposed as useless.  As a kid, it seemed weird to me that every day held things that didn't seem to matter, while rare days like these held the only thing that did- loving people.

I tell you all of this because I've been trying to be more like a child lately.  It's not something you'll hear most adults say.  But there's a beauty in dreaming with reckless abandon, in speaking truth, in loving without prerequisite, and in trusting that you'll be taken care of.  Now, I'm going to frolic in the snow and in the outside cold and in the warmth of people I love.  I dare you to do something child-like today.

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