“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” – Yoda “Episode 2: Attack of the Clones”.
Do you remember what it was like to be a child? That sense of wonder at discovering new things, the fascination and joy. Everything seemed bigger and brighter and your senses were alive soaking up every experience. As we grew up something happened; the veil came down. We started to lose our innocent sense of wonder, acceptance and trust. As we entered in to our teens the world started to lose its magic and color. We no longer cared for the same things in the same way as we did when we were little. The Ego expanded and we started to see ourselves as apart from everything.
“Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.” – Aldous Huxley
Losing my Childhood
When I was a kid I would escape in to my own world. In that place lived Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. There was Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca. Darth Vader was also there. Outside of my imagination there was all the misery of a childhood lost. The mind of a child is an amazing thing. Unlike adults they seem to be able to accept things more readily and handle life better.
For me the final death of my childhood was when I got drunk the first time and felt something within me expand. It was a feeling of power and independence. I could finally close the door on my childhood. It had been after all a miserable one. Here I was with my Army buddies in a bar, chest thumping and making bloody oaths. I was now a Man, at least in my own eyes. The veil slammed down and the fog drifted in.
Rip Van Winkle’s Sleep
Alcoholism is a twilight that exists between two phases in our life, the time before it and the time after it. During that time we are in a form of mental stasis. We do not seem to move forward in our emotional development. For me I stopped growing up in that seedy bar with my drunken and loud comrades by my side. Like Rip Van Winkle, I would only really wake up from my emotional and spiritual slumber 25 years later.
At that dark emotional and spiritual low point in our lives some of us call “Rock Bottom” I discovered something incredible. I found that the way out was to reclaim a child like sense of wonder and trust. Without even being aware of the 12 Steps I found my Higher Power in that place and felt within me the inner child stirred. It lifted me up and I came out of the pit renewed. The world looked…different. Everything was clean and fresh and new. I was seeing the world in a completely different way as if through the eyes of a child.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4
Awaken the Inner Child
We adults must seem inflexible and obtuse to children at times. I can still hear my children imploring me to get dressed up as Pirate, Spider Man or a Fairy. They would be disappointed when I would refuse and delighted when I would drop my ridiculous sensibilities and play the part in their game. Those children are now teenagers and to them I am an old “Fart”now, barely worth a side ways glance. The veil came down for them some time ago. Kids these days grow fast or at least they seem to. Obviously I don’t get called upon to get “dressed up” any longer. They have grown and so have I.
Yet the inner child never dies. If you look within you will find it is still there. That sense of awe and wonder, a long forgotten innocence remains. There is forgiveness and boundless love that sweeps over you like a fresh morning breeze in the sun when you find your inner child. I think it is the inner divine or at least a facet of it. Seek it out often; try to remember what it was to be 7 years of age all over again. You will find joy and inner peace there.
“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” – Albert Einstein
Photo Credit: United Press photographer Arthur Sasse in 1951