Do you remember the first time you went on the swing at the park?
But I do know that it was as exhilarating as the first time I went down the steep water slide at the water park. No, I don’t remember which water park, and yes, it was when I was away at summer camp as a kid. (I also thought I was gonna fly off of the slide and possibly die, but I guess that added to the appeal)
One thing I know for certain is that the way we see things and the way children see them is completely different. What I mean by that is simple: as most people grow up (I say most because some people are perpetually children, and good for them!) our perspective changes. We become jaded. A walk outside, if it happens at all, is simply a means to get somewhere or a means to exercise. But for a child it can be the most amazing thing in the world. The colours (no, the spelling isn’t wrong, it’s simply Canadian. Look it up if you don’t believe me), sounds and smells are mystifying and captivating.
If you’d be so kind, I’d like to ask you to try something: Go to your kitchen – or any room, for that matter – and sit on the floor. Now look around. Imagine for a moment that you can get around just fine, but you can’t stand up (meaning you are no taller than a toddler). The room looks different, doesn’t it? Maybe you just noticed something that you never realized was there (if you’re in the kitchen, it’s probably some random crumbs from some dish you ate that have been hiding out underneath the refrigerator). Also, the countertops are now foreign to you. You (technically) have no idea what may be hiding up there.
I know. Not as thrilling as a water slide. But to your toddler, it is. (mostly because a water slide would be terrifying to him/her, but I digress)
I took Jacob to the park the other day (one, or both of us take him almost daily), and instead of driving (don’t judge me. The park is over a mile away, and after a workout at the gym, I don’t always have the energy to push a 26lb toddler in a stroller up hill to the park. Yeah, yeah. My grandmother walked up hill to school and back every day in the snow as a child too…) we walked. It was such a beautiful day outside. The sun was shining (as is often the case in Southern California), the birds were singing a symphony and there was a cool refreshing breeze that would whip past and through us every so often. I thought to myself: This is heaven. Me and my little buddy on our way to the park. Father-son time. Let’s do this!
Jacob loves the park. The sandbox is a world of possibility (though I can already see my own cleanliness neuroses creeping in when he falls down and vigorously shakes his hands to get the sand off. I stop worrying when he tries to eat the rocks) The swing? That’s his little rocket ship (hey, it could be!). And the little flowers? He loves to pick them and tickle his face with them (yes, I taught him that). He points at everything. He’s curious. He’s also very smart.
Jacob loves being outside.
We were walking up the street and a loud truck came racing past us. Jacob freaked out. That’s when it hit me. Our perspective really does change so much. What is mundane to us, is astonishing to our children. A mere annoyance? Well, that’s downright terrifying to them. (Jacob tends to get very scared when the garbage truck comes by in the morning to pick up our trash. I’m pretty sure he thinks the world is about to end. It’s cute, and one day, I’ll remind him of how much protection he needed from the garbage truck. He’ll love that)
Some of you are reading this and thinking: Duh! Of course our perspective changes as we get older! It’s called growing up. What’s your point?
Well, it’s very simple. Sometimes, we need a reminder. Not for the kids, but from them (so, thanks, Jacob!).
Remember the first trip you took to that exotic destination you always wanted to visit? The food. The scenery. The weather. Remember how you took in every second of that trip? Remember how fast it went by? I bet you can still remember the smells and colours and sounds and tastes. For me it was Maui – I can distinctly remember embracing the culture and not wanting to leave.
That feeling can accompany you in your every day life (yes, even if you live in some cold place where it snows). It’s a choice. A choice to keep exploring. A choice to keep asking questions and wondering. Most of all, it’s a choice to stop and smell the roses (or appreciate a snow flake). Stop taking things for granted! Live in, and for, the moment (responsibly, of course)
Do something that scares you. Do something that makes your heart sing. It’s ok if the definition of those things changes over time.
It’s the attitude that you bring to each experience that matters.
I won’t be skydiving any time soon. Yes, that scares me. Yes, I used to want to. I don’t anymore.
I have a kid now. I wanna watch him grow up. Instead, I’ll continue to pursue my passions and dreams. Without a safety net. Hopefully that will inspire my son to do the same. Yes, it’s terrifying. Much more than the steep slide at the water park. Just because we have to grow up, doesn’t mean we have to grow bored. Or old. Youthfulness has nothing to do with your body or looks. Happiness is an inside job. So is excitement. Yes, we have a lot to teach our little ones, but they have a lot to teach us (or remind us of) too.
Who knows? Maybe I’m crazy. My wife probably has an excellent argument for that case, but still.
Maybe I’m right.
It’s all about your perspective, remember?