For children, the world is simple, mainly because they understand the way life should work; the things that are truly important (those things that they love) and how they want their days to play out, doing those things.
This is the natural state of a human being – loving life and repelling with aggression those things that could impinge on the enjoyment of our limited time on earth. If you’re reading this with cynicism, ask yourself – who told you thinking this way was wrong?
Just as like attracts like, children are attracted to those beings that are like them, those that behave in their natural state without fear or remorse.
Dogs act like this, so did dinosaurs and so do mythological creatures like dragons. There’s a reason children have an affinity for animals and concepts like this, and there’s a reason why, as adults, we find certain characters appealing – the cop who doesn’t obey the rules, the guy who packs it in for no apparent reason other than to follow his dreams and travel the world, and the struggling vineyard owner in Tuscany.
Anyone who has attempted to mess with this “natural state” in children will be familiar with the result;
unreasonable tantrums and passionate objection seem like overreactions to us, but to the child, they’re simply attempting to maintain their own independence, powerfully fighting – not for the sake of being argumentative – but instead in order to remain themselves, without parents, teachers, and others sculpting them into an idealised image that serves little to no actual purpose outside of giving the inflictor a sense of control.
As we get older, our resistance decreases as the inhibitors win us over.
Like slaves we adhere to our captors, accepting our lot and understanding there’s nothing we can do to change the way of the world, even at the expense of our own eighty-odd years on earth. We’ve been programmed, and through this, we’ve become creatures of ego; defending our place in the world and mocking those who would question the status quo. When asked to do things that are unreasonable, we don’t fight; instead, we justify and explain to ourselves why we must be “responsible,” and “grown up,” terms that should be resonant of the elegance of age and maturity, but instead serve to justify our own acceptance of mediocrity.
“Nobody loves their job.”
“You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”
“It’s for the kids.”
Our goal in life should be to remove those inhibitors to our natural state.
By taking away those things and people that seek to control us and inflict on us their own sense of the way things work. Because in doing so, these inhibitors don’t simply rob us of time, they force us to recreate ourselves in an image that’s suitable and comfortable to them. We become clones of aspirational figures and idealized concepts that others have told us are what we should hope to be.
If you want to do something for your kids, become someone they can aspire to.
Fight the norms and be honest with yourself about what you love, and what you hate. Become a role model; somebody who decides, rather than being at the mercy of a boss, manager or society. Show disdain for mindless adherence to social norms for no other reason than it’s the way things are, and teach them that their hunches are right, that playing is better than working, that sitting in an office for most of your natural life is stupid and it’s better to create options for yourself than to wait for someone to offer them.
We’ve become participants in our own lives, playing supporting roles in a movie we should be starring in, but it’s not too late. That child’s not gone, it’s just dormant, waiting for you to start paying attention to it again.
All it takes is a little nudge…
Featured photo credit: Austin Schmid | Unsplash via unsplash.com