By Christine Baker
Nyack, NY, USA
Christine Baker and Jessie
When I was a little girl, I splashed in the rain and talked with the crickets. I laughed at the grass as it tickled my feet. I stood, wide-eyed and open to the vast red sunsets in June. I rolled side-over-each down long velvety soft hills until the world spun about, off its axis, off its rocker. I felt love and protection so real, so tangible that when I closed my eyes to imagine different worlds, the places I envisioned were never quite as good as the view I had from the grassy hill overlooking the lake; never quite as perfect as a small bullfrog lulled to sleep in my hands.
And when I grew older, I promised myself I’d remember how it was I could carry on conversations with my dog, how I was able to create characters from the passing clouds, how time could pass slowly enough that I could hear my own breathing against the sound of the ocean waves.
Those promises somehow marked the beginning of a different way of dong things. I did manage to forget. I forgot how to do all those childish things. Traffic barreled down on my song and responsibility bore a hole through my imagination. Gone were the characters in the clouds. Gone was the music in the ocean. When I did find the time to close my eyes and dream, the place I envisioned was so much better than the place I was in. I became an adult and forgot what it was like to be a child.
Then one day, I began hiking to lose myself in the cloak of nature, the sound the breeze makes through the trees. I walked to escape the rushing, the doing and the trying. I walked to remind myself how I used to be connected to the natural world around me.
One day, as I hiked, I came upon an old man on the trail. His shoulders slumped forward, his head tilted sideways and his eyes were on the sky. His khaki shorts looked so baggy next to his skinny and wrinkled legs. As I passed him, he whispered, barely loud enough for me to catch his gravely voice, “Can you hear it?” he asked. I slowed to his pace and responded, “Hear what?”
“Ah,” he said sadly, “you’ve forgotten, haven’t you? You promised you’d remember, I bet. We all do. But we don’t. It’s not too late you know. It’s never too late to remember.”
“Remember what?” I asked, confused.
“Just keep listening. It’s there. Keep walking until you understand that within the quiet is the music.” His hands were neatly tucked in his pockets.
He then abruptly turned around and began walking in the other direction. I kept on my path to a clearing at the peak of a small hill. I turned around again to see him, but he was lost in the trees, gone somewhere along the trail. I climbed on, to the highest point, and found a place to rest in the middle of a small clearing with a view of the sky.
For over an hour, I barely moved and watched the sun slide lower on the horizon. I wondered what it must be like to be the sun, to know exactly where you’ve been and where you’re headed every moment of every day.
How many times have you laughed today? How many times have you smiled and let someone in? Have you watched a cartoon lately? Made a milk mustache and texted a photo of it to a friend? Why not?
Remember how open you were to people, ideas and your imagination when you were a child? Remember how you let yourself daydream? Those things don’t have to stop because you are an adult. Why not take a moment and:
Laugh like a child laughs.
Play like a child plays.
Imagine like a child imagines.
Love like a child loves.
Forgive like a child forgives.
Don’t forget the child inside of you. Your inner child is waiting within you for a chance to come out and play. What are you waiting for?