“Simple Wisdom” is a series of posts exploring life through the uncomplicated, baggage-free, brilliant eyes of a child. They often have a richer understanding of what matters most in life, if only we’d pay attention.
I watch my daughter play and dance and sing. I see the world through her eyes–her untarnished view of life, where everything is new and no matter where she stands the environment is chock-full of wonder. She is excited by life’s simplest pleasures. Every idea is worthy of exploration. She lives fully in the present, turning ordinary moments into opportunities for joy. It is clear she feels both safe and loved. (A luxury she doesn’t even realize is a luxury.) She is the definition of carefree.
I am nearly jealous, because I know the world to be much heavier than that. A place of confusion and cruelty and soul-shackling sorrow. My college roommate once imparted wisdom that has stuck with me for 20 years: “Innocence is not knowing what you shouldn’t know; ignorance is not knowing what you should.” As I watch my daughter skip from room to room with a jolly bounce in every step, I delight that her innocence keeps her blissfully—and age-appropriately—unaware of the bitter truths I know. One such truth is that she, too, will come to know what I have learned. In time she will taste the bitter just the same, and almost certainly sooner than I prefer.
Bottle It Up
I become emotional. I wish I could bottle up her innocence, her zest for life, her uncomplicated confidence, her absence of self-consciousness. I wish I could catch it, contain it, and return it to her later in life when the world around her has grown cold and disappointing. What a gift that would be: a reminder of where she began, the strength of her spirit, the joy in her soul.
Then it hits me…
She IS that very gift to me. SHE is the reminder of how I began. A reminder of fearlessness, possibilities, big dreams, and happy dances. All of the best things in life “bottled up” in one tiny human. In watching her, I have returned to myself. She has shown me a mirror of the girl I used to be. Her job is not to fix me, but to show me where I am broken so I can fix myself. I spend my days leading her, teaching her, guiding her, but with one sudden paradigm shift, I understand that she is teaching me even more. I am teaching her life skills, but she is teaching me how to live.