This is a glimpse of the child that’s within
He’s so immature but he’s still my best friend
If he could learn how to fly he’d never touch down
He’s the kid that I am when there’s no one around
– Garth Brooks, “When There’s No One Around”
I turned another day older yesterday; the significance of seeing it through another day was that I also closed the chapter on one year of my life and opened the chapter to another.
Yes, it was my birthday yesterday. How old I am in chronological years is not important; in my mind I am still the kid I was back when. As Garth Brooks sings, I am “… the kid that I am when there’s no one around.”
I can only speak for myself, but some days I feel just like the kid still inside me; and by many accounts, that’s not such a bad thing.
I’ve read many missives from poets to practitioners of psychology that say it’s a good thing to stay in touch with your “inner child.”
I can identify with that; I am OK with that.
I’d be willing to bet that I’m not alone in this. Are there any Week-Enders who yearn to release that inner child and just feel the freedom of loving life that a five-year-old feels on a warm spring day, rolling down a grassy hill in the bright sunshine?
We adults could take a lesson from that kid. By necessity, we get caught up in all the hustle and bustle and stress-inducing requirements of life in the 21st century. But think of the therapeutic energy we could release if we could tap into that unfettered, pure love of life a child feels when tumbling around with a litter of puppies or kittens.
Just imagine all the positive ions and the healing endorphins released during those moments most of us have experienced, but forgotten.
We get to experience this once in a while with a child or grandchild as we watch them experience these “firsts” in life–like the brightness in their eyes when they pull in their first fish, or catch their first ball.
Parks and rec professionals might actually be in an advantageous position to experience this even more when they work with youth programs. I’ll bet many coaches do what they do because of the joy in seeing their coaching pay off, even though they may not be conscious of it.
Adulthood teaches us to suppress the inner child; from the time we’re approaching our “tween” years we’re told, “You are becoming a young man (or woman) and you’ve got to start acting like one.”
Often, this means bottling up the inner child; pushing him or her back into the recesses of our consciousness, not listening to that tiny voice calling out in the darkness to “have fun.”
I’ve heard it said that if you do what you love doing, then it doesn’t feel like work. I can interpret that to mean that if you listen to your inner child with the wisdom and hindsight of experience, perhaps a balance of life can be discovered.
Think about it: Your inner child (IC) is saying “have fun” while your outer adult (OA) is countering, “But I’ve got to work.” What if we could get a dialogue going between these two entities? The discussion might go something like this:
IC: “Have fun!”
OA: “But I’ve got to work.”
IC: “Isn’t your work fun?”
OA: “Well, not really.”
IC: “Why not?”
OA: “Well, because I’d rather be…(fill in the blank–painting, singing, fishing, flying, riding a horse, etc…)”
IC, with wide, blinking eyes, thinking about that, then in a simple but profound way asking: “Then, uh, why don’t you do that?”
OA, pondering that question, trying to find the answer that this naive, simple little child will understand, then realizing that this little child has proffered a question so difficult that the worldly, sophisticated OA doesn’t really have a good answer for it: “I don’t know, kid, that’s a good question.”
I think the answer is in the question; OAs often don’t do things we love because we don’t listen to our naïve but wise ICs.
So, as I turn another day older and begin the journey of another decade, I am making a promise to myself; I am going to start listening more to my IC.
The truth will set you free, it is said. The truth is I haven’t always been doing what I love, what really jazzes me, what makes me feel the pure ecstasy of that kid rolling down the hill.
But I’ve turned another year older, so I guess I’m deciding to exercise my entitlement to wax philosophically.
It’s time I start tapping into the excitement and joy; I am going to reach back into the recesses of my being, search for that lost little voice calling out, unlock the gates and–release the IC!
Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Peachtree City, Ga.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email email@example.com.