The Eyes of a Child
One of the most endearing aspects of children is their dependency on their parents and adults. They – unlike older kids and adults – love to be told what to do, where to go, when to get up, what to wear, etc.
Everything is new to them – the world is full of wonder: from a dandelion blossoming in the springtime sun, to the dandelion’s puffball floating in the air, to a bubble bursting, to the sound of the wind rustling the trees – everything catches their attention. And should a child find something fun, they will do it over and over and over again – long after older children and adults have tired of it. Children are little miracles – what the world does to them over time is unfortunate. It’s too bad we can’t carry some of that innocence and wonder throughout our lives. I often wonder what if the world wasn’t so structured, so technological, so complex, if adults wouldn’t be a little bit more like children.
I guess when I think about it, some adults do have some childlike qualities…but the innocence is certainly missing. We rarely think about the end of our lives – most of us pretend we have an unlimited amount of time so some of us waste an awful lot of it – and all of us waste some of it.
We invent ways to kill time – to pass time – to amuse ourselves and fill those empty hours. Usually, the older we get the more empty hours we have to fill. Sometimes this leads to productive and educational pursuits and sometimes this leads us to do things we’re not so proud of…. idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
Most of us don’t have the wherewithal to do as we please all of the time. We have to work, some of us have young children to care for, and some have other obligations which take up most of their time. The rich have more free time – which leads to adults being more like children – although their pursuits are usually much less innocent.
As for me, I’m somewhere in between the child and the man – I’ve found myself drifting off into a childhood long since past – reliving my days on the baseball diamond, coming home and drinking Kool-Aid, watching TV and going to bed when my parents told me to – a small boy with big dreams of being a professional baseball player and having my picture on a baseball card.
I don’t know if they even make baseball cards anymore.
I often relive warm spring and summer nights from long ago. I can smell the wind blowing in off Sandusky Bay. I can feel my grandfather’s rough but gentle hand in mine. We’re walking side by side talking about everything and talking about nothing at all. I can relive those moments is such rich detail that I am transported back to relive that time and that place over and over. And for those magical moments, my grandfather is just as alive as he ever was and I am a little boy again – trusting and innocent, walking beside my hero, going wherever he takes me — and loving every minute of it.
Some of my reflections can so real they nearly take my breath away. I’m startled – and a little scared – when I realize I was so deeply immersed in thought, it is like being temporarily mesmerized. I not only think I’m somewhere else in time, but I am somewhere else in time. The smells, the sounds, the feeling of the wind on my skin, the taste of the strawberry ice cream, the glint of the setting sun reflecting off the bay – all too real – all too nice – all too beautiful.
Sometimes it is so real that I shudder when I lift myself from such dreamy thoughts and realign myself with the present. Ah, yes, the present. The present indeed, with all its problems and all its complications and all its responsibilities. Sometimes this cascade of reality makes me want to run back again and again to those innocent and simpler times… the more beautiful and peaceful places in my life.
Sometimes I wonder if having the ability to see things in such detail and to be able to instantaneously travel back to a childhood buried under so many todays and tomorrows is a blessing or a curse. I can think a word and from that word can grow beautiful or horrific images. Some of the images that grow from a word or a phrase can be so real, and so powerful that I have to actually break off those thoughts and force myself back to the “now”.
I wonder if other people see things as I do. I wonder if they do, do they feel blessed or cursed?
It is not only the past I can see in great detail, but I can also see the future too. Unlike the past, however, whatever I see in the future is an odd stew of present mixed with what I desire, and stirred and simmered with what will probably be and what is unlikely to be – with a dash of what will surely be and a large dollop of what will never be. All simmered and seasoned with what I want to be. I can savor those scenes of the future conjured up by my mind as entirely as I can those now-frozen memories of what once was. As I grow older I often find it becomes more and more difficult to stay in the present, with the long past pulling me back and ever-shortening future pulling me forward.
I pine for lost innocence. I long for the peaceful soul of the child I used to be. When I relive my childhood I can find that lost innocence that will never belong to me again. Am I lucky or cursed that he child inside me lives on? Is it good or bad the child inside never really left me?
I feel blessed. I think it’s a good thing that I can see the world through the eyes of a child – even if it’s only for a few fleeting moments. At least I can grasp them and hold on to them and remember them.
I don’t know what others think or how others see things in their minds. I don’t know if words or phrases spawn entire scenes or entire worlds in other peoples’ minds. I only know my mind.
I guess, in a way, we’re all always alone with our thoughts. We can never know what happens inside another’s mind, we can only know what happens within our own mind. We’re trapped inside ourselves and we can never let someone really come inside. We can only hope that we find someone we love so much that the isolation and loneliness are eased because we can share our darkest or most beautiful thoughts, our deepest fears, and our most intense desires, with someone we love. It makes the isolation of our thoughts much easier to endure;
Sometimes I feel blessed that I can communicate some of the things that go on in my mind through words and I can share some of my thoughts with others. It must be a savage loneliness that haunts those who can’t communicate the thoughts, the dreams, the fears, the desires, and the hopes that go on within their minds.
I’m a lucky man to have kept the child inside alive and to dream the dreams that seem so real – to go back in time and walk again and relive some of those wonderful spring and summer days – walking along a tree-lined street, holding my grandfather’s hand and knowing that everything is right in my world.
Is that a sailboat out there, plying the blue waters? A lonely sailor silhouetted by the setting sun?