Have you ever looked at the world through the eyes of a child? Not just any child, but a really young child, like say a baby. Now, when I say looked, I mean really, really honestly looked. I’m not talking about when you were a child, we all did it then. There was nothing stopping us. What I mean is have you tried to do it again? It is a difficult task, one that becomes harder and harder to do with time.
Recently I got the chance to see just what that really means. Sometime ago, I was with a very good friend of mine and her six-month-old son engaging in a belated holiday celebration. It was so fun to watch him as he took in this brand new world we live in. Everything from watching some one smile, to the crinkle of paper, to the family cat, to even the stubble on my face and the “stretchiness” of my skin is an object of fascination to him.
I must admit he is not an easy person to have a staring contest with, mainly as everything is so new and fresh to him, he can’t stop and look at anything for long periods of time. If the cat walks by, he will stop what he is doing to watch the animal. If he saw that piece on the floor again, it would replace his favorite toy for several minutes. Feeding him was even more fun once a wash-cloth was placed next to him as it supplanted the food as his source of fascination.
At the same time, because of the way his infants mind works, he can’t full comprehend what real separation is like. If he can’t see his mother, he is sure that she is gone forever. It takes some time, but eventually he calms down and all you can do is tell him, “don’t worry little buddy, mommy will be back.” Naturally, he doesn’t believe me until he sees a door open and sees my friend’s familiar smiling face looking back at him, and he realizes for himself that she hadn’t left him for good.
There is something gratifying about being old enough now to know that you will see the people in your life again, and being able to find things that hold your attention for long periods of time. However, what we could also use in our life is the same thing that propels my new little buddy. He is curious about the world around him. He wants to know how and why everything is the way it is. Everything has a level of excitement and fascination to him.
We all need these traits. A sense of curiosity, and fascination for everything around you. A willingness to grab hold of the skin of life and stretch it out to see how far it can go. An unwillingness to accept any easy answers until you can realize it for yourself. Most importantly, to look up at the world around you and realize how big it is, and just how much you have yet to see, to explore, and to learn. Perhaps these same characteristics can also make a good story-teller.