“All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
Recently, I tried to recall what I used to like to do when I was a child. I remember that I enjoyed building things, Lego to be specific, and I enjoyed coming up with stories. I had a hard time trying to recall what else I enjoyed doing as a child. When I closed my eyes and tried to recall what I was like when I was a child, I could picture myself alone in a room and playing with my Legos. I seemed to be a child who was imaginative and preferred the make-believe world to reality.
But that was not all so true. Recently, I had a little experience which helped me to remember the person I was when I was a child.
It happened in Levi, Finland when Y and I decided to try cross-country skiing. It was her second attempt at cross-country skiing but it was my first attempt at skiing (I didn’t even know how to put on the ski boards!) so I didn’t know what to expect. Y said it was mostly quite flat so it should be quite easy. After we put on our gear and got onto the trail, we realized that there was an uphill slope ahead of us. Nonetheless, we decided to forge ahead. It was tiring to walk uphill on ski boards and it took us some effort to reach the top of the slope. But of course, what goes up must come down. We saw that there was a downhill ahead of us and we decided to continue. That was the first of the several ups and downs that we encountered on our little adventure. I was ahead of Y. Now that I think about it, I was not sure why I did not let her go first. I pushed myself forward a little and I skied downhill. I love that sensation of skiing downhill and I realized that was a sensation that I miss. I also fell quite a few times and I realized that was something that I miss as well.
As a child, I enjoyed cycling downhill and I had a need for speed. I love the adrenaline rush, I love how everything around me seemingly blurs when I am moving quickly and I love how I am completely present in the moment. As a child, I would cycle uphill with my brother in the afternoons just to enjoy the sensation of going downhill. Those were really some good old days. So I guess besides being an imaginative child, I was also quite a daredevil as well.
But with each passing year, I realized that fear has quietly seeped into my heart. I hold myself back because of the “what ifs”. I think before I act and sometimes I think so much that I end up spending the whole time thinking and worrying instead of being present. Like what Shakespeare said, “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The brave experience death only once.”
Adults also seem to do things more purposefully. It is almost as if when someone asks an adult why he/ she does that, he/ she has a good answer to justify his/ her actions. Adults don’t do things just because they can. There are societal perceptions and unforeseeable consequences to consider.
But at the end of the day, you own your life and you own your story. I think what you like as a child plays a huge role in determining what makes you happy in life. Maybe it will take different forms but it will be quite similar in essence. Don’t allow your inner child to die just because everyone else tells you to do so.