Yesterday afternoon I sat perched on a bench, nursing my cup of coffee, feeling the sunshine soak into my skin. I sat observing and listening to my surroundings, when I noticed a little boy prancing around, followed by his mother. They walked into the library then stopped in front of Star Fountain. The boy climbed up onto the edges of the fountain and started walking around it, taking big, full steps while singing, “I’m free. I’m free as can be in the waaater!” He walked around a few times, continuing to sing and swing his arms as his mother stood there expressionless. She kept telling her son, come on, come on, we have places to go, but he just kept dancing around the fountain lost in his own little world. A few weeks ago I walked along the canal downtown and saw a group of kids walking on a raised ledge near some steps. They were so excited and yelled out, “Mom! Look at me! Woaaaah!!” In both instances, these kids were so excited about life; just existing in a space where there was a wall or fountain to climb, and the fact that they could climb it if they wanted, brought them so much joy.
|Me as a child.|
I oftentimes find myself completely enamored by children because they are so free. This little boy was so happy and full of life by simply walking around a fountain. I love that. Kids are so excited about living, and they act upon their impulses to find excitement, then seek out opportunities to do so. Children get so excited over the simplest things; things that exist in the world already that we often don’t notice because we are too distracted by our own lives. They explore these things in different ways than adults because they don’t feel inhibited, and they don’t have to worry about jobs, conflicts, making dinner, or paying bills. They see a wall that seems good for climbing, so they climb it. They hear a tune in their head, so they sing it. That’s such a beautiful thing. They’re still young enough that they don’t know curse words, and the worst thing they can hear in a day is that their favorite television show is playing a rerun tonight. (Do you even remember the last time you didn’t say or hear a curse word? Wouldn’t it be magical to revisit a time in your life when “shut up” was the meanest phrase you knew?) As cliché as it sounds, they don’t know the realities of the world yet, and I’m jealous of that. I still don’t know many harsh realities, but I oftentimes wish I knew fewer than I do. I wish I was so innocent and free that climbing up on a wall would stir up so much excitement inside me that I’d have to call out so someone could see me and share in my joy.
I enjoy being a 20-year-old, and I am aware that being my age gives me more opportunities and knowledge than a 10-year-old, but I am a little envious of childhood splendor and innocence. As a child, life seems so grand and exciting, and every afternoon holds an adventure in your neighborhood. This is still somewhat true in my present life, and I try to keep my inner-child alive by wearing my Forever Lazy to class, or by talking to strangers and asking people weird questions, but never again will walking and singing around a modest-size fountain be the most dazzling part of my day. I kind of wish it could be.