Picture the following, if you will: a young boy, perhaps six or seven, He is of average build, with a bright, freckled face and a crew cut. He wears blue jeans, a T-shirt, and black and white running shoes because these are his favourite clothes—they’re rough and rugged; the best type to wear for climbing trees, building forts, and playing hide and seek. In his pocket, he has a ring with at least a dozen keys on it; all of which fit nothing.
Through the magic of his imagination, they start the cardboard box that serves as his car when it’s raining and he can’t go outside to play.
The boy is the youngest of his family, which consists of two older sisters, and a loving mother and father. They live in a modest house (but a rich home), on an acre of land that backs onto an adjacent farm owned by his mother’s relatives. The farmer and his wife are getting older, but they still raise a few cattle. In the summer, the cows often graze close to the fence that separates the two properties.
If he can’t remember the words, he makes them up.
One of the boy’s passions is to sing. At his tender age, he has a soprano voice that rings strong and true; in fact, in Grade One he is encouraged to compete in a music recital. He stands on a platform and sings. The first words of the lyrics, which he remembers to this day, begin as follows: “When my teddy takes a walk, down the street and cross the block….” When the cows have lazily returned to the fence, the boy often entertains them with his voice. Oh, how he belts out a tune! He sings all of the songs in his repertoire, which are often hymns he has learned at Sunday school. If he can’t remember the words, he makes them up. It doesn’t matter—what’s most important is to sing, just for the joy of it. The cows don’t seem to mind, which is a bonus. Sometimes, he sits atop a corner post and just sings and sings. He feels wonderful, connected to the world around him, and not self-conscious in the least. The boy is just being.
It will come as no surprise when I share that I was that apparent boy. At that age, I didn’t realize that singing to the cows could have been viewed as either strange or wrong; an activity, which if done today by any adult, would no doubt have neighbours shaking their heads and laughing in ridicule. However, please contemplate this: Is it really so wise or necessary to bury our inner child and innate connection with The Absolute?
To be reminded of God’s Presence, we need only watch children as they play; for they can teach us a great deal. As we listen to their peals of laughter, an inner part of us will spring alive; we’ll feel a natural gladdening of our heart.
Children remind us of who we are; of our true nature that has been buried beneath years of social conditioning. Being close to nature is also a great reminder; for nature isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is. A limb falls in the forest and that’s just fine…just where it fell. The limb will decay and rot, giving life unto life in the process. There’s not a mess to clean up unless we think that something needs to be done.
The point of this article is to remind readers that it’s healthy to reconnect to that innocent part of ourselves. We don’t always have to take life so seriously; nor do we always have to obey the commands of the thinking mind, which often says, “Whoa, if I do this, I’m going to look stupid!” We’re paying a steep price for listening to the negative voice of the ego; for it almost always extracts more happiness than it gives.
It’s possible to function in the real world while living from the perspective of our inner child? The method is simple: we make our plans and perform the work that needs to be done; but we do so mindfully, fully engaged with the aliveness of the present moment. Daily meditation is a great way to learn how to reconnect with our inner child. Modern society is thinking too much when we should be figuratively singing to the cows. Isn’t it time? When would be a better time than now?
For my inner ear I hear Nicolas Cage as Captain Corelli saying that there is always something worth singing about, when children are born, when people are buried… when cows are ruminating. OK, that part was not in the movie.
In the forest close to where my parents lived most of my life, there was an “activity route”. Logs on which you could balance, stumps put down in patterns to traverse moist stretches, even rope bridges and monkey bars. I don’t know if it was intended for making it easier for parents to drag their children out for a walk but it was a favorite for my dad and me.
When he was 80 and I was 50.
Your wonderfully open and sincere story took me back to my childhood. You are so right. Childhood knows no bounds of imagination. As we grow up and enter the rigidity of adulthood, all that changes. Your analogy; singing to the cows viewed as weird by adults who may have done the same but can’t it won’t connect with their childhood. This essay is a supreme description of what we really feel and want out of life. Freedom to be ourselves. Meditation, and in my case, country walks bringing back memories as a kid when walking along shallow dreams transporting me to those times of freedom.
Brilliant and supremely though provoking.
Thank you so much for your kind comments about my article. I’m glad that the article resonated with you. I agree that people want freedom to be themselves, to just “be.” Country walks were also a part of my childhood, and I’m happy to hear that you’re still enjoying them!