An essay on children and life

An essay on children and life

What do children teach us about life? Everything.

They teach us how our swirling emotions are just below the surface, ever ready to erupt as the ape brain takes over. This reminds us of our own emotions, which are just a little deeper, a little hidden, a little protected.

They teach us how to look at everything with fresh eyes and boundless curiosity. And I do mean boundless - there is no end to questions - so many questions - probing, taking different viewpoints, searching for meaning, for understanding, for knowing. They are sponges - like a Dartmoor blanket bog or sphagnum moss - able to hold far more than seems possible or reasonable. Wonder at everything and ability to synthesise a breadth and depth of information.

They teach us to be present. Past and future mean little and the present is all there is.

They teach us that nature is a gift, not in how they treasure it, because a child treasures nothing, really. But in how in terms of experience in the present it is a gift. Give a child a rock, a stick, a pine cone and they will give you a dinosaur egg, a wizards wand, a space satellite. But only in the presence of fresh air and space. They need space to flourish, for their imagination to really lift off. And fresh air is their rocket fuel.

My children use outcropping rocks to charge them when their batteries are running low. They don’t yet understand they are not too far from the truth with our radon-emitting granite here on Dartmoor.

When I say a child treasures nothing I mean they place no esteem in material things. They can take and they can give and they can destroy. Actually there is a lot to learn from the lack of attachment to transient things. If they lose something, they are sad, but then it passes and they wholly and utterly move on. And that’s it, gone from their memory with no tie to an emotion. No regret, no dwelling. Gone, but not forgotten.

Children laugh at the rain, fear the thunder and feel the uphills and downhills In their legs. The way they experience everything and anything with all their senses, all their emotional intelligence, all their presence of attention is astonishing; and frankly exhausting to us adults.

Children represent an unbridled, unharnessed, burning heart. A ball of energy with no direction. Don’t harness them, don’t contain them. Let their fires burn brightly, brilliantly and with only love.

Be present, see things as they are, with all your senses and emotions, and be free from the past and future and rationality.

That’s what children have taught me. See things through the eyes of a child.