The Power of Immaturity
"Look at the world with the child's eye - it is very beautiful"
"You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what's wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever's in them rises to the surface in free play."
- Erik Erikson
When I was a child, I climbed trees, ran barefoot through the grass and rode my bicycle with no hands on the handlebars. My job as a kid in the summer was to use my imagination to create fun and adventure and to enjoy every moment of my day. Of course, life requires that we grow up and accept mature responsibilities, but I don't remember signing an agreement to relinquish all enjoyment of the simple pleasures of youth. Sure, it would be difficult to achieve career advancement if you spent your afternoons building a pirate ship in your backyard out of spare pieces of lumber. However, behind even the most respectable facade, isn't there still a immature child waiting to come out and play?
We become parents or get to be a certain age and are expected to behave in a prescribed way, but you have to appreciate those that ignore the rules and somehow manage to squeeze a little more fun out of life. My Dad was always someone I respected. He was dependable, reliable, and generally predictable. Though he spent most of his time in the corporate world doing serious work as a nuclear engineer, occasionally he did really silly things, usually at the prompting of my unconventional, free-spirited mom. I remember him dressing up as a pirate for a treasure hunt and his spine tingling witch's cackle that terrified the neighborhood kids at Halloween. Now that he is gone, it is these things that are most remembered.
Every once in a while I meet someone who still retains the spirit of a child. Sure, it is carefully hidden behind a calm, adult demeanor, but it occasionally seeps through in the twinkle of their eye, a silly joke, or a teasing gesture. The child in me recognizes and responds to that spirit, and don't we all? Because we all secretly still want to run out of the office to play.
I believe it is no coincidence that the elderly often begin to act in childish ways. They are wise. The years have taught them what is important. Freed from the yoke of the responsibility of raising a family, earning a living, setting an example, they can return to the joy of youth. Their competitive spirit is revived with bingo and jigsaw puzzles, their childlike wonder and curiosity are sparked by travel, and liberated from self consciousness and the desire to impress, they say whatever they want.
What is beautiful about being childlike? It is a lack of preconceived judgments based on status, net worth, and lineage. It is an open mindedness fueled by imaginative creativity. A child can make a world out of three scraps of wood, a patch of dirt and a hand full of rocks. A child can dig to China and get wishes from fairies. What if we brought some of these childish ways into our daily life? How inspiring to entertain a bit of limitless thinking for a short time. Buy a box of brand new crayons and draw an imaginary world, swing on the swings, sing a happy tune out loud, or ride your bike with no hands on the handlebars*.
I cannot be held responsible for any injuries that may occur should you actually try to ride a bike with no hands.