Lessons From Children
Children know things. They have ideas. Some seem foolish to our adult minds, while some may remind us of truths we might have forgotten. Sometimes we hear a thought a child has and we dismiss it quickly. Sometimes we encourage a child to pursue that thought and build it into a theory. Just as I would never take the advice of a teacher, a text, or a tradition as fact, without thought and consideration, I do not take the words of a child as truth simply because they are spoken from a newer place in life’s experience, but if I had to pick between the advice of a child, or a televangelist, the child wins every time.
Lesson 1: From Whence We Came
My nephew, when he was three, bounced up and down, up and down, up and down, on my mother’s bed. My mother was trying to take a nap and could not, because there was a toddler playing trampoline next to her. When I asked my nephew what in the world he was doing, he looked at me, smiled giggled a little and said with some measure of excitement, “I was born before I was born”.
I had been reading some thought on reincarnation. I had often wondered about the after life and how we “got here” in this world. Here was my nephew, excited, looking me straight in the eye while smiling, and exclaiming, “I was born before I was born”.
I still have no opinion on reincarnation. I cannot say with certainty what the after life will be. My suspicion is there is no after life. My suspicion is there is a continued life. And while we may have been born forty times into this world, it matters very little, to the work we have to do here now. But his smile and confidence has stuck with me. I was, indeed, born before I was born. We all were. Do you think I was born yesterday? Yes. I was. And the day before that, and the day before that. We are always new. We are always beginners. We are reborn every day.
Lesson 2: The Red Bird
My son Carter came to us when he was five years old. Six or seven years later, he deals with family dynamics that are different, at least, and perhaps more difficult, than some other kids his age. On a positieve note, at least there are family dynamics for him to figure out. It could be worse, but that observation never helped anyone going through any trial or trouble. Carter new my mother for a few years before her passing, as “Grandmamma”. They loved each other.
After a particularly rough situation was temporarily resolved with regard to Carter’s holiday schedule, I was a bit concerned for Carter’s mental state when I left for work recently. He is tough. He can handle anything. I was just concerned that he might get caught up in the daily situation and not focus on the “bigger picture things” that tell us we are going to make it through whatever happens to come upon us. We teach that sort of thing in our house.
I came home tired. I put my things away. I fell into the couch beside Carter and said, “How was your day”.
Carter smiled and said, “I saw Grandmamma”.
“Oh yeah?”, I replied… “How was she?”.
He explained that he looked out a window and there was a red bird calling and that he understood Grandmamma to say, “Everything is going to be okay”.
We did not have a conversation on symbolism. We did not determine in our minds whether that was an embodiment of my mother or my actual mother. We did not wonder if my mother had sent the bird, or if it was the Creator, or if it was of the red bird’s own volition that Carter had seen it. Grandmamma told him it was going to be okay. That is really all I needed to hear. And really, that is all Carter needed to hear. And to be honest, my lesson had nothing to do with messages from the beyond. It was that everything, is indeed, going to be okay.
Lesson 3: The Pants
When I was growing up, my parents made some questionable decisions. Well… really only one that I know about for certain. The pants. If I wore today, what they proudly adorned me with in the 1970’s, I would be ridiculed. Plain and simple.
I do not know if I looked good then. I do not know if that was the style. What I do know, is that I do not remember one pair of those pants from memory. I do not remember if there was a dress code, or how much my outfits cost, or if I was cool because I buttoned my top button or chose to wear the neckline low. Thank the heavens above, my childhood memories have little to do with what I wore or what I looked like.
The thing for me to remember, the lesson I learned from the child I was, is that the pants I have on now, might be as odd in thirty years, as the busy little numbers I wore to elementary school. What somebody else is wearing, or how they look, will not matter at all, and should not matter, at all. Great tools to express themselves, but not a great help for seeing the person behind the wardrobe. My lesson, see people, hear people, understand people. You do not have to help everyone you see, but why not make it a goal? The child we know best is the child we were.
At My Age
I am nearly fifty years old. I am convinced that my continued education in matters of life should be split between learning new things and unlearning things I believe to be true. There is truth in the world, but it is so hard to get to the core of what is true. I do not believe there is “my truth” and “your truth” and “the truth of the guy across the world”. There are realities that are different, but truths are cheapened if we do not take the time to find the universality of what is true for everyone.
As adults, innocently enough, in our quest for truth, we want to ask everyone to “prove” it. I always found it humorous that founders of religions are recorded to have said so little in comparison with the volumes of words used to somehow expand on what a leader or founder of a religion has said. It is staggering. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Zarathustra, Moses, all of the Rishis in all of Hinduism, and even there disciples, have so few words. We blame our charity and our wars on these people. And we sell our opinions of them like we sell used cars.
So, yes, I have much to unlearn. I did not learn most of what I “know” on purpose. Somethings I need to unlearn I have yet to discover about myself. But what I do not ask of children teachers, is proof. Children are closer to the source of God than I have been in fifty years. We are from God. We tend to forget that. God is closer to us than our next heartbeat. We tend to forget that also. And as for you? What truth is there that I know for you?
You have choices. You have a story. You have something to teach and you have something to learn. When you think about giving up, the balance between what you think of yourself and how the Divine sees you is out of balance. When you think about giving up, you may need help. We all need help at times. On the good days, you are the help for someone else. You are an eternal being in a temporary situation. To paraphrase Dr. Wayne Dyer, “you are a spiritual being having a human experience, not a human having spiritual experiences”.
Be you. Enjoy you. If you do not enjoy you, change you. And share your joy.