As a child, we see and experience things for what they are. We explore things, we touch, feel, sense, bite, hit and do everything possible to understand it. We take some things apart, we put other things together.We roll them down, we stare into them. We jump on them. We even trick our siblings to put it in their mouths.
Sometimes this happens not just for our first encounter with the object of interest. We do this exploration repeatedly because that becomes our reality. I will shortly tell you why I call it ‘our’ reality and not ‘the’ reality.
At that age we got no frames of references. We are not ‘experienced’. So everything is new. What happens when everything is new? We get the guttural need to explore. To experiment.
When my mother was making chapatis, she would give me a little portion of the dough. I was free to use the dough to make anything I wanted. I made cats, elephants, and a variety of other animals and objects.
Did I ever think of making chapatis out of this chapati dough? No. If you ask me, that thought never even crossed my mind. I was the maker of the great dough animals. Why would I do boring chapatis?Yet now, I use chapati dough to make nothing but chapatis.
What happened to the explorer? I obviously became an adult.
If that is the consolation I give myself, then does being an adult mean I can’t be an explorer too? Does the adult in me kill the explorer to get out of the child-form?
How many times have we seen an amazing movie and thought, “Man! If only I had selective amnesia, I would watch it once again” That right there is your childhood – dead & gone. Because children explore the same things over and over again with rising enthusiasm. They could watch their favorite movie multiple times and enjoy it all the same. Suspense or no suspense.
Their enthusiasm just rises in every stage of interaction with an object.If an infant is given an object X, (I’m gonna stick to feminine pronoun from now, because that’s just how I like it)
stage 1 – she is excited that she doesn’t know everything about X yet;
stage 2 – she is excited about getting to know X;
stage 3 – she is excited to know X;
stage 4 – she is excited to know X remains X.
Basically she finds new ways to be excited about X, despite X being the constant here.
Now let’s put an adult or a preteen in the same situation. Within seconds – boredom. Sometimes it doesn’t even get to stage 1- exploration. This is the pathetic curse of (urban) humans -lacking enthusiasm for exploration.
Saying yes to ‘Definitions’ because the opposite apparently is ‘Delusion’:
It was a fine afternoon when it hit me that the moment I turned into an adult was not when I hit puberty, but when I started to perceive the world around me for what it actually was. I found myself restricting my explorations because of the ‘Definitions’ given to me.
“No, you can’t jump on the bed anymore. A bed is meant for sleeping.”
“No don’t touch the remote. The remote is meant to be near the TV.”
“No, you can’t climb on the wall. The wall is meant for protection around the house.”
“No, you can’t play the guitar. Only guys play the guitar. Girls are meant to sing or dance.”
“No, you can’t do that because it is meant to be this…”
You see, definitions got in the way of my explorations. Things that are ‘meant to be’ are for adults. Things ‘that could be’ are for children.Think about it, as a child everything is a play-thing. Then comes the moment we attach meaning to them like adults do.
Why should a paper airplane not be real? Why does it have to remain a piece of folded paper?
Why does the floor in between couches not be real lava?
Why shouldn’t I behave like a princess when I wear a tiara?
Why shouldn’t I be the superhero who saves the world ?
When all of the above becomes pretend-play and not real anymore, congratulations, You are finally a frigging adult. I told you that I’d explain ‘our reality’. Here it is. The lava between the couches are our reality, not the reality. I am a superhero is my reality, nobody else’s. The paper airplane I made is real to Me; but it is a delusion for them.
Our reality.Their delusion.
Children explore their reality and are happy. Why ruin that for adults?
Imagine this, if only we could train ourselves to defy definitions and to encourage delusions(in a good way). To find our own reality in whatever we find.