Our lives are often quantified by the number and size of our circles. The nuclear family is our first circle. Our corporate and social circles expand in our youth and contract as we age.
Coins stashed for retirement or merely to be amassed treasure are stacked into cylinders. We even count the circles under our eyes. What about the life seen through the smallest circles?
Children look at the world without cynicism. They decry the things and people before them in terms not jaded by experience or heartache. They call a spade a spade and care not a wit adults would be offended by such declarations.
Many of us would give up money and possessions to return to an age where we were free of the battle scars of both the school of hard knocks and the university of life. Others of us would never go back for love nor money. Both camps will agree to the trip with the caveat If I knew then what I know now…
In their innocence, children propose the simplest solutions to conundrums adults are unable to ravel. For instance, the child of the widow asks when the new suitor will take her last name. The logic is so simple. The family is the widow and the child. Acceptance of the beau means he joins them, not the other way around, as the society sees it. A simple matter of majority rule.
This alleged unsophisticated way of approaching issues is far more commonplace than one may first imagine. As adults, we often succumb to the overly complicated as a rite of passage, rather than eschewing the complexity in favor of the logical solution.
Children will often stop listening to the instructions, particularly the exceptions which follow. To their minds, the important matters come first. All the silly fine print designed to ward away danger could not possibly be of consequence; otherwise, why would the print be so small and appended as an afterthought to the primary text?
In our adult efforts to boil everything down to a concentrated elixir, we forego the important steps of safety and well-being. In our arrogance, we assume such provisions should be accepted without nomination.
Children will try an adult’s patience with a litany of a single word: Why? As the diminutive vessel stands waiting to be filled with knowledge, the adult realizes there is nothing at hand to impart. The irritation comes from the adult gripping the blatant fact ignorance, ineptitude or laziness led to acceptance without questioning Why? prior to this exact moment.
Adults fill such guilt-laden holes in logic and reason with brilliance: Because I said so; Because that is how it is; Because it has always been this way.
Children recognize when things have outlived their usefulness. They walk away from broken toys knowing the enjoyment is gone. Their grief is short-lived.
Adults hold onto things for sentimental reasons. Hoarded piles of items fallen into disrepair kept because a person long gone once possessed them, useless fandangle from the curios of generations before and souvenirs of a life lived by another. They will despair the loss of such things in a way the original owner would have found shameful.
Children are the same way about adult relationships. No more elation when one walks through the door. No more reaching for the person who does not come when called. No more wasting of valuable energy on the person who hasn’t the time for them.
Adults hold onto what should long since be discarded for myriad reasons, mostly the lack of desire to begin anew. With an exaggerated sense of investment, the mere longevity of the near-dead relationship makes adults cling tighter to what never should have been, even when what they have never truly was.
For one day, one hour or even a few moments, look at the conundrums through the small circles. Embrace the simplicity. Eschew the complexity. Enjoy what life offers.
Name the conundrum you would most like to ravel. How would a four-year-old solve the problem? Are you in touch with your Inner Child?
© Red Dwyer 2013
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