Awaken the child in you | Sunday Observer

Awaken the child in you

6 August, 2023
A child plays with her pet
A child plays with her pet

We love and care for children without knowing that they too can lead us – like Pied Pipers in reverse – back to the bright world of spontaneity and wonder that we thought we had lost forever. Most adults think that they are competent to lead but history shows that they are poor leaders when it comes to appreciating good things in life and living close to nature.

While children are building castles on the beach, adults are moving into skyscrapers surrounded by the asphalt jungle. As a result, most adults do not know the value of sunrise, sunset, starlit skies or moonlit jungle paths. They are forever building walls around them and keeping away from nature’s wonderful creations.

The wide difference between adults and children can be seen in their behaviour. I knew of a patient who had been advised by his doctor to relax. He tried to teach himself the art of relaxation by trying to play the guitar. He struggled grimly for several days, but never learned how to play the instrument. His five-year-old daughter accidentally discovered the string instrument and tried to play with it. She was thrilled by the sounds made by the guitar and one day she stepped out into the sunshine, improvising a melody as she went along. Her father was surprised to see his little daughter playing the guitar and having fun.

Domestic problems

We adults do not know how to enjoy such fun because we are full of fatigue, domestic problems and economic woes. Because of the tension and anxiety, we have forgotten how to play a simple musical instrument or to sing a song.

The girl’s father constantly asked himself what really had happened to the joy in his life. He was determined to recapture the thrills of being alive like his little daughter. Psychologists who have observed children at play know exactly what has gone wrong with the adult population.

Unlike adults, children do not ask if what they do is worthwhile. A child pulling a piece of wood is doing so for the sake of play – nothing else. It is an end in itself. An adult will not engage in such acts because he thinks such behaviour is somewhat silly. He wants something meaningful all the time. Take your small child to a playground and leave him there.

He will not sit somewhere watching others play. He will at once leap and run wherever he wants. If he sees a jungle gym, he will definitely climb to the highest bar and hang himself by his knees. While the child is enthralled with the way the world looking upside down, no adult will attempt to limb the jungle gym.

Children do not run here and there for the sake of muscle building or to lose weight. They do so out of sheer pleasure. When you become an adult, you expect others to entertain you. That is why adults flock to theatres, cinemas and circus grounds. When there is a cricket match thousands of people watch how cricketers play. They like to watch programmed events and enjoy the moment. When cricketers play well, they shout for joy. That is how they enjoy life.

Cheering crowds

When a child plays, he is not worried about spectators or cheering crowds. He knows that he is the master of his play. His imagination runs riot and he thinks he is on top of the world. Once I saw a little girl hugging a partially damaged doll covered with a piece of cloth. For her, the doll is a priceless possession. Similarly, children playing with marbles are not worried about winning or losing the game. They only enjoy what they do.

The trouble with adults is that they become wiser as they age. Whenever I visit my hometown in the backwoods, I still see children playing ‘Hora Police’ (Thieves and Police). Some children become thieves and others pose as police officers. For them, it is an exotic game full of thrills and adventures. For adults, such games will not produce any pleasure.

Some intelligent adults wonder whether they could regain their lost capacity for play.

According to psychologists, it is not something impossible. The first rule is to be alive to the moment. Look at a child’s face when he plays. For him, the moment is everything. He does not plan what he should do. He simply jumps into action and enjoys it fully. The day adults could act in such a way, their joy will be instantaneous.

If you look at how children play, you will note that they enjoy a lot of freedom. Some adults get scared when their children run about. Children have no such inhibitions. Even if they fall and bruise their hands and legs, they are not worried. The rule appears to be that children let themselves go. Unfortunately, adults rarely let themselves go for fear of injury. They are always self-conscious, but children are not. If you have a pet dog, it is the children who play with it all the time.

Sometimes adults get annoyed by the playful antics of their pet dogs. For a change, adults should take their dogs for a walk. Then they will realise the real benefits of keeping a pet dog. When you play with a pet dog, you will feel a sense of joy you had never felt before. Children also do not need any prodding to play with their pets.

Unlike children, most adults are rigid in their behaviour. They have to be a little more flexible if they care to enjoy life. A child knows how long he should play. When the moment comes, he stops playing. Thereafter, he will look for a new adventure. Adults have much to learn from children when it comes to enjoying life. Your life should not be confined to office work, domestic chores or thinking how to earn more money.

Balanced life

If you really want to lead a balanced life, take a break to listen to a bird singing in the trees or watch a squirrel nibbling at a mango. If there are no birds or squirrels around, sit somewhere and breathe fresh air. Without your knowledge, your behaviour will lead to greater efficiency and productivity.

Even the great philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti used to walk in the forest to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Children and adults alike have to renew their ties with nature regularly. Most of them are living in concrete jungles losing their contact with nature. Children by instinct know that the world is a beautiful place to live in. That is why they respond instantaneously to the miracles of nature. Adults too should follow them to enjoy life to the full.

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