Do you remember what it was like being a child? Seeing everything for the first time? I doubt many of you can remember that far back, me neither of course. But everyone does see children every now and then in their lives, maybe you even have some of your own. And when you do see a small child, it is impossible not to notice just how full of wonder they are about life. Everything, even the simplest of things are filled with questions of how and why. Life for them is a magical playground with unbelievable moments around each and every corner. It really is beautiful to see. They interact with everything in a much deeper way than we do as adults. It’s refreshing to pay attention to and it makes you realize that even though growing up made us wiser, it left us with a lot less wonder about life and the world we live in. We have replaced that wonder with the feeling of normality. We have seen trees, we have felt snowflakes, we know what rain is, we have seen animals, we have smelt flowers, we have walked on grass… we have experienced all of those so many times before, that they raise few or no questions at all. In fact we no longer even realize we are experiencing them.
A few days ago I watched a small child picking up a leaf from the street while his mom was talking to her friend. I saw the child looking at the leaf so full of wonder, so deep in thought. It made me smile and a spark of curiosity lit up inside of me as I watched him. From the bench I was sitting on, I also took a leaf and looked at it, just as the child had done. I held it in my hand, felt its texture and examined every part and detail up close for several seconds.
And as I inspected the leaf, I thought “isn’t this incredible? How is this real? How can this be? The structure, the feeling, the color?” I felt a sudden rush of amazement for the world, amazement that I am part of it all – all triggered by a simple leaf. I took a glance back to where the child and his mom had been. They had moved along, and were walking away from me, but I saw the child, still holding on to that leaf – and it made me smile all over again.
If we could trade our jaded – grown up eyes with those of a child, a simple leaf would spark enough interest, enough amazement and curiosity to make you feel glad to be alive. How incredible is that when you think about it? It’s a shame we have lost that kind of curiosity over the years, and with it the profound wonder about those small things in life. However it doesn’t take more than a small adjustment to our own eyes to make us see in that way all over again. Take a walk outside after reading this, and take notice of everything you witness around you. The wind blowing through the trees; the warmth of the sun on your skin; how the raindrops feel, falling all that way to earth and landing on you; the people, the smell of the air, your movements, a passing leaf… But this time, look at it all as if you are seeing and experiencing it for the first time in your life – and ask questions. Look at the wind, feel the sun and the raindrops, look at the people, smell the air and pick up that leaf and ask yourself how is it all possible. Because children see and experience everything for the first time, they pay so much more attention to it and therefore they connect with it at a much deeper level. They experience living so much more intensely than we do. Yet, the only thing they do differently is that they witness everything as if it is something new, something unique. And everything they see raises a hundred questions: why is that like it is? how does that work?
If we make that adjustment to our own eyes, and do the same – look at everything as new, as unique – life will become so much more interesting and richer. And by pretending you have never seen this all before, you’ll actually come to see things you never have seen before.
Now, if you beg my pardon, I’m going to get my jacket, and I hope to have you join me.