I’ve been reading the book “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” by Madeleine L’Engle. One of the main themes of the book is that we humans tend to lose our childlike wonder as we grow older and that has a big impact on the way that we live our lives. We tend to be less creative. We tend be more rational and we lose a bit of ourselves because of that.
I read the following this morning:
“When we are like little children, with the openness the child has up until the age for school, then we retain our ability to be creators, our willingness to be open, to believe.”
It made me think about my daily life. Careful. Calm. Calculated. Usually I’m worried about what people will think of my thoughts and actions. I stay on the safe path. I don’t see much of the child in myself at all.
I had moved to Colorado upon graduating from college. I had a girlfriend at the time that got into graduate school there and I didn’t really have any job prospects at the time. Colorado sounded fun. I ended up taking a serving job at a restaurant, which left my schedule quite flexible during the week. I especially liked the days where I didn’t have to work the lunch shift. I didn’t have to be into work until 5PM or later on those days.
I love the outdoors, so I usually took advantage of those days by hiking a nearby open space on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. It was a vast park, with trails that wound through the foothills. Being naive and from Illinois, I assumed that you needed to be ready to fight a mountain lion at any time. I used to carve a long stick into a spear with a knife while I hiked along. I’m not sure I understood at the time, but I don’t believe I was being practical or rational. My uncle has lived in Colorado for 40 years and has never seen a mountain lion.
I think I was just looking for the adventure, and that idea manifested itself into me carving a stick into a spear. I would walk along, with my spear, looking at ridge lines and up into trees, thinking about what I would do if a lion came at me from any of those spots. I was prepared. I was ready for action. I had all of the childlike wonder in the world. It’s such a beautiful memory for me now.
I participated in my high school’s summer running program when I was a freshman in high school. A group of us met at 7AM at our high school to run everyday the entire summer. I met a guy named Ryan, and we became wonderful friends. We used to run the bike path that ran next to this creek. One day he said “Let’s run through the creek.” Without a moment’s hesitation we were running upstream through the creek. We were up to our necks at one point. We were laughing as we splashed along. I still run next to that creek everyday. And I think about that moment. I usually get the dull thoughts in my head like “Well I could never do that now. My shoes would be forever ruined. And who knows what kinds of chemicals are in that water. And what if there are living creatures in there. Gross. I can’t do that.”
Where is the creative side to me? Where is the openness? Where is the belief? I’m trying more and more find opportunities to be like a child. Keep in mind that acting childish and being like a child are two very different things. My niece recently saw some of the paintings that I had done in the last few years. She said to me “it looks like a child made them.” I was a little bit hurt, but then I realized that that is what I’m going for with the paintings! I’m trying to be spontaneous. I’m trying to let my creative side flow. I’m trying not to worry what about what other people think.
I’ve been so much more happy since I’ve made it a point to take on tasks like a child would. It’s a big reason why I write this blog. I’ve learned to quit my worrying and just throw myself into a task that I’m interested in. My mind has opened up in ways that have helped with my work and my relationships. I’ve felt more connected with the world that I live in. I’ve felt more connected with God. I’ve felt a greater amount of purpose and belief. I now look for opportunities everyday to be more like a child. I’m determined to run through that creek this summer.