Today marks the final installment of the current “big kids” series. I hope you’ve been enjoying the trip down memory lane. But more importantly, I hope you collected a few things during your journey and brought them back with you, dusted them off, and started playing with them again in the now.
In case you missed them, be sure to catch up to speed on PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3 (particularly PART 1, which sets the stage for each following post, including this one!).
Let’s take one more look at something we used to know as kids, but maybe have forgotten as we’ve gotten older:
4. Children know how to stay in the now.
Do you remember how long summers felt when you were a kid? How long a vacation week felt? How long even a single day off of school felt? Why is that?
The thing is, kids know how to live in the moment.
I remember being a kid and spending what must have been hours making a detailed shadow box of “The Muppet Show” stage with my sister. We made 3D finger puppets using paper bags, crayons, needle and thread, and cotton balls for stuffing. We made every character we could think of, starting with the obvious cast (like Kermit and Miss Piggy) and then moving to the more obscure (like some nameless also-ran from the ballroom where they told terrible jokes). Then we would put on our own shows, singing the full opening song before each of our “episodes.” Never once did we think about how long it would take to be done, what we would do next, or even when dinner would be. I guess we just figured someone would call us eventually.
My childhood friend Jon and I would go for walks around his neighborhood (remember when walks weren’t “power walks”?). I remember a day that we walked up a big hill at the park. When we got to the top, panting a bit, Jon turned around and assessed our climb, hands on his hips:
Jon: “That was a pretty big hill.”
Jon: “We should roll down it.”
And down we went. Then up. Then down again, until we were laughing uncontrollably, feeling good and swirly. I suppose we might have been setting out to go somewhere at the start of that walk, though I can’t recall exactly. That hill needed to be rolled down, and so we did.
I’m convinced that time seems to move faster as we get older simply because we stop living in the moment, trading it for living almost entirely in the past or the future. Stop and really think about that!
As adults, for some reason, we begin to adopt habits like replaying bad days at the office after we’re home, or arguments after they’re over.
Or we begin to think solely in terms of how much time is left until some future event.
Until we can finally crawl into bed.
Until our two-week vacation in June.
Until rent or taxes are due.
Until the joy (or expenses) of the holidays.
Until our parents will die.
Until we will.
Whatever the particular reasons, we stop living in the now. We miss the moments we are walking through – even the people beside us in those moments – because our focus is perpetually elsewhere, in some distance place ahead or behind us. And that can cause life to feel as if we are skipping (hopping, even leaping) between “major events,” instead of strolling along, taking time to enjoy the beauty of right now.
Please – don’t just take this four-part series merely as some sort of lament on the “way things are for adults” or as just a nostalgic reflection. The child-you is still very much in there. It knows how to laugh. To love simply. To live fully in a moment. To just be.
As the saying goes, it’s like riding a bike. You haven’t forgotten. You just have to spend some time remembering how.