The bright sparkle of childhood. The every dawning day joy of something new, something previously undiscovered. The dew on the petal, the frog in the pond; the face that forms in the cloud in the sky.
We begin life in wonder at the seeming never ending magnificence of that which we are born into. Our sensory perceptions grasp eagerly for new touch and taste and sight and sound. We pluck an autumnal leaf from the ground and admire its form and colour and texture. Then, gradually, with patient care and tongue between teeth, we strip the leaf away from its veins leaving just a skeleton, which is then cause for further amazement. We make temporary patterns in water pools with our finger and note and admire the rippling effect. We blow dandelion seeds into the air and watch as they journey through their between lives. We hold hands with a trust that is total, and a love that matches. We speak with the sweet breath of youth.
Then we grow up and begin school and graduate and find work and form relationships and slowly, imperceptibly, something changes. Scintilla by scintilla the daily lustre of our selves and our surrounds is dimmed. The joy from all that is around us decreases as our experience increases. The world becomes smaller. Is not that interesting? As a small child the world is huge and full of fascinating imponderables, as we grow older it seems to become gradually smaller and smaller. Our perceptions shrink inwards where once they eagerly stretched outwards. We withdraw when once we would have reached forever. Our number of friends diminishes, our interests wane, our very being seems to shrink. Our world dims and diminishes until such time as there is no world left at all, and then we are dead.
In fact of course, the world stays the same but ever so gradually we retreat into an ever more insulated cocoon. This conceives the illusion of a smaller world. A smaller world where everything is known and nothing more needs to be known. We know full well the tricks that are passed as promises, and the charades that are passed as relationships. We know of disloyalty and greed and fear and spite and lies. We know of bitterness and blame, and regret and shame. A world where all is not wonderful because all reminds us of those times in our past which whilst full of promise were in the end just harbingers of betrayal. Yet whilst we have gained all these new certainties, the sum of our new knowledge is a dense and unfathomable turmoil. Our maturity has not gained us wisdom or clarity, quite the reverse. For who could be more wise or clear of thought than the child who revels in the splendour of innocent simplicity?
What is it that happens to turn this initial state of grace into the dulled and jaded person who dies seventy years later? Where goes the precious essence of life? Where has gone the joy and the pleasures and the purity of the soul? Where did the old person lose their youth? Is this process a necessary part of ‘growing up’? Does the light automatically dim with the passage of ever more years? Is it right to say: “I am no longer happy because of all the wrong that there is in the world”, or, “Only a fool can fail to see what is really going on”, or “I can no longer trust anybody”?
To deny that there is wrong in the world would be naive indeed. To deny that these wrongs can even jolt in the direction of evil sometimes would be silly. All is not well, all is not good, all is not as we would wish it to be when the world is lit with the bright stars of youth. But does this mean that all is bad, or that all is mean and nasty and unworthy of our attention? Surely such depth of cynicism, such dullness of perception, such retreat from life’s basic goodness does great harm to all who pursue such a belief. But worse, each such submission to this lower level of existence gives even more credence to the illusion of this grim picture, and causes even more to fall onto this slippery slope of diminished hopes and dreams.
Be decent, be true, be fair and be of bright hope. For those times in the past that you have erred or acted ignobly or felt great loss, acknowledge it and move on. The burden is not worth the bearing, for it can change nothing except you, and then for the worse. See the best of all people, not merely their obvious flaws. None of us would live our life the same way were we to have it all over again. We all made and make mistakes, we all have flaws. Even the small child has flaws. Is there really a dividing line between good people and bad people… or are we all merely people who are sometimes right and sometimes wrong, sometimes judge and sometimes judged? For that tiny minority who are seemingly wrong by inclination… should we abandon all light and happiness to see their wishes fulfilled?
Go for a walk and open your eyes and mind. Remember how it was when you were young and when the sun shone down, even on cloudy days. Look to see the goodness in those around you. See the trees and smell the flowers. Hear the birds sing the song of a new day. Recall your dreams of childhood. Has the world changed… or have you?