Come And Be A Kid Again

This was the headline my partner, Rich, wrote for an advertising account which put on county fairs. It was written years ago when we were in the ad game.  I woke up this morning with this mantra reverberating in my mind. I realized how important it was, and like a dream that you can remember while coming out of the reverie state, the details of the dream will be gone in a flash if you don’t consciously catch them. I lay there trying to imagine all of the things that used to go through my mind at various ages.  But most importantly I tried to remember what I thought about when I was free to imagine and to  just check it out.  Let me stop here because it is at the interface of being a responsible member of the culture, setting family and grownup responsibilities aside, and just being free that I want to re-visit.

It is to this interface or portal  to which I want to return, because it is at this juncture that we are herded away and  into the dictates of our world. We stop  investigating that other portal. Once we start down the path of adult learning and  responsibilities our minds become absorbed with just how to do this. We are eager to learn what the new rules are, because not learning them seems to deliver pain. We want to belong and have fun, and we don’t know where the limits of our freedom ends and adult behavior begins.  We learn manners, how to dress, what to say; in short we learn what our parents, teachers, and other grown ups tell us we must do. Then of course we observe that some of us have more or less than others. We observe kindness, strictness, and meanness. There is more.

The vast majority of us (except for those wired for psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies) come hardwired to a degree with an understanding of fairness and a sense of morality.  We explore these concepts with our peers by trial and error and of course are told daily by parents, teachers, and other kids what the rules are if we not only want to survive but live well.  We experiment on our own. We learn how to be clever, what happens when we break rules, what happens when we  lie, cheat, and  steal . We learn what happens when we behave, study, do what our parents tell us is best.  We observe that some kids seem to be able to do certain things better and how they get rewarded. At the end of these long years of incubation we are molded by our family and our environment enough to be turned loose to sink or swim.  We then struggle to perform to the dictates of that path in the culture we have chosen. We also have to observe the threats to our culture and be on guard so as to preserve and carry on this way of life.  Then there is our career or what we can do for which others will pay us. There are religious dictates telling us how to behave or the consequences. There are social and legal laws and the consequences.

We are at the same time undergoing changes to our physical body. Nature is releasing hormones which compel us to certain behaviors especially with the opposite sex. And there are rules upon rules from our culture about how we are to respond to these new urges.

And finally the kid in us or inner child is all but on life support systems.

But returning to that portal or interface as I called it, it is here that we carved out the time to be truly curious. It is here that for moments we were free of the cultural dictates. This was the area of unbounded freedom. As boys we were free to run, climb, throw. We could explore nature. We could play with animals and bugs, catch fish. We could build forts. We could tear things apart and try to put them back together again. We could stay up all night sometimes or watch as many movies as we wanted to. We could find out what it was like to have too much, that an entire sleeve of Oriole cookies could make you sick. We could watch a butterfly emerge from a cocoon and wonder how that worked. We could, in this state of mind, try practically any thing.

But now, decades later, here I am having survived my cultural ordeal. By that I mean I have reached a plateau, some would call retirement and others would call a reorientation. I am still in the culture , but how much do I want be bound by the drama of the culture? What is my obligation to the culture? Yes I live and breathe inside the dictates of society trying to be a useful citizen, paying taxes and helping my fellow man where I can. But there comes a time when perhaps the true obligation to oneself, and in so doing perhaps to our fellow man,  is to return to that portal, that time in life when we were like kids living in unbridled curiosity. Our inner child was in charge. Most of us were only able to visit this  sporadically in our adult life, but maybe those who have made the greatest contributions to society were lucky enough to spend a lot of time here.

Looking back at my childhood  and youth there were  limits. I was small, but getting bigger. I usually didn’t have much money, if any, so my freedom was channeled towards the world that was freely available. I had time constraints; there were usually only hours, but sometimes on vacations as much as days or weeks, before I had to return to our real world. It is at these times that I may have been given truly valuable  insights.

So what about now, how can we give our inner child more time at  the helm to take us through this portal and more into that world? What do we need to watch for?I started to write more but perhaps it is better to live our lives asking that very question, “How can my curious  inner child get more time to  captain the ship? There is so much around me that is doom and gloom, but there is also the wonder of it all and the wonder that is emerging. That’s what I want to focus on and  I want to come and be a kid again.

What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear.

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