At the end of my Philosophy of Childing book presentation and mini-dialogue at a Barnes & Noble in San Antonio last Thursday, the wonderful events coordinator, Debra, joined a bunch of us in an informal chat.
She said that while I was talking about how it’s possible for us to lose over time those childhood qualities that can most make life worth living, she began to wonder: “When do we stop skipping and leaping and bounding from place to place?”
“Kids don’t walk, they leap, they bound,” she told us. “When do we stop, and why?”
I mentioned that my ten-year-old daughter Cali still bounds everywhere, does so unconsciously, and it’s a joy to behold.
We wondered if losing our inborn capacity to literally float on air is a sign of some adultish demise. There’s a section in my book in which I quote Shel Silverstein, who laments that we can lose over the years our ability to be not just close to nature, but as one with it:
once I understood each word the caterpillar said, once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings … once I spoke the language of the flowers.… How did it go? How did it go?’ That’s from Shel Silverstein.
Part of his message is that you can be wisest to the wonders of the world when you’re youngest. And you can be wisest to the joys of being in the moment, to the bearable lightness of being.
So my question is, can we relearn those traits? What would the world be like if adults began to hop and skip and bound and leap again? Would it be a brighter, lighter place, as I suspect it would? A more childlike place, in the best sense?
What kind of life would you have to lead as an adult in order to leap and skip and jump and bound without giving it a thought?