Recently, a respected colleague referred to himself as “just a child”. He meant it negatively, but I thought about it positively. The idea of childhood is to me this pure thing, pure not in an innocent way but in the sense that the joy of life and experience are unsquelched. I look to childhood and admire and lament. I compare the best among us to children; I say their best qualities are childlike qualities, not dampened by the monotony of daily existence but effusive, naïve in the good-sense of naïve, full not of exception but potential.
I believe these things because the perspective of a life lived seems to beat into me the cadence of impossibility. I fall into the trench of defining myself in terms of boundaries: I am the sort of fellow who so-and-so; it’s not appropriate that I should et cetera.
I sit in the castle made of my life-experience and perceive the boundaries of my life-kingdom. Those boundaries are the product of an intersection: my self, my intuitions and natural tendencies, and the observed effect of those tendencies applied to the material world. I perceive from this my point of reference, and struggle to break free.
The march of life and life’s experience channels me into trenches of perspective, coloring everything I see in dark brown, burning in patterns to my behavior, tendencies to my character, history to my story, rendering it one way or the other, inevitably stripping it of the purity and innocence that I can imagine once having had. It’s in fact work to retain my childlike qualities of wonder and awe and good-type naïvety and humor and no foregone opinions or conclusions. My colleague is lucky.