Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thoughts from the Field

Yesterday, while I was still home in Chicago, I was outside by the pool playing with my cousin's nephew, an adorable little 15 month old, and he pointed to an airplane going by in the sky.  This is a new thing he's doing now: every time he sees an airplane, he looks up, points to it, and follows it through the sky, laughing and smiling.  My cousin remarked as he did so: 'It's so funny, it's like every time he sees it is the very first time.'
So it is with children.  Her statement is actually something I have been thinking of a lot lately.  To experience the world like a child does would mean that you are constantly learning about it, and about your place in it, and, as a result, about yourself.  Children are phased and captured by small things that adults often fail to find wonder- real wonder- in: airplanes, the tastes of new food, someone else's laughter, sounds, new environments, and new experiences.  In our world as adults we receive the same stimuli so often and interpret it in generally the same way every time- our work place, our living space, our loved ones, our friends, our significant others- it all becomes routine after a while.  We come to value security and knowing more than new experiences and the unknown.  We don't look upon things with the same wonder as we used to.  We also don't create that wonder, as we grow up and get jobs, get married, have families, and desire money (of which children have no concept).  This is something that I have found disappointing about becoming an adult- I don't know many people who challenge their own belief systems voluntarily, just to see if maybe there's a better way of living.   People who look at the truth about the truth.  People who want to be wrong about things because they want to learn more than they want to be right.  People who go outside and look at the stars every night and find something new about them and wonderful about them.  People who can make poetry out of sitting in an airport, looking at strangers, thinking of stories.  
For some reason I remember the way I thought about the world as a kid.  I used to realize that the stars moved, obviously, in the sky, and I used to make up stories about how they were attached on invisible strings to one another, and those strings were wound around the moon.  When I learned in school about how the stars actually moved, it fascinated me.  I remember thinking that that wasn't what I thought at all- I was wrong, and it was so cool that I was wrong and that there was really another way.  Adults, it seems, never want to be wrong.  

There's a great Jim Henson quote that I love, which goes: "The most sophisticated people I know- inside, they're all children." Picasso often spoke of the connection between being an artist and being a child; to be creative and innovative, one cannot be affected by the rules, standards, and conformations of the adult word.  To innovate you have to see things differently, like a child does.  Every experience has to be a unique experience that you'll never experience again.  Because that's what moments and experiences actually are. 
Today as I explored the beautiful landscape of Ithaca, I thought about why, especially living in an urban/suburban area, it's so peaceful and wonderful to be in nature and observe it.  There's something about it that's distant and old, untouched.  It's not human.  It's not affected.  It just is, and whatever it is is beautiful.  There is nothing of any ascribed value- it is all simply as it is, and the beauty needs to be found to be appreciated.  It really made me happy to jump from rock to rock in a stream, to climb a waterfall, to listen to water running.  I'm at a point in my life, finally, after much growing, where I am not afraid to take in all that beauty, to sit quietly with myself and let it touch me. 

It was a nice reminder to keep wondering, keep trying, keep learning, and never grow up.



TripleG said...

So true. My experience is that most people stop learning and growing at about 18 and for more educated people it's around 30. What's nice, around the bend, is that after retirement, if you have kept that spark (hidden most of the time) you can feel free again because no one is watching or judging. Sweet anarchy before 5 and after 62!

A Quartzy Life said...

Thanks! That's very true- I value my education *a lot* in terms of pushing me to become more now, at 24, than I was when I was 18 (very stuck, hopeless, and not passionate). Learning/doing new things is so important. Thanks for the feedback- sweet anarchy *forever!* :)