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Amidst the sheer mass of the global dilemma mankind is faced with; it has become exceedingly difficult to remain confident and self-assured. I have found absolute joy and unwavering contentment recently in the simple pleasure of time spent in candid conversation with my kids. The untaintedness of their innocence has recently forced me to reflect on my personal strength and vulnerability.
It’s funny how as a parent, to your child, you are the ultimate source of truth. You are the all-knowing, all seeing, all encompassing “Great oracle”. You are posed with a plethora of questions and scenarios, a host of which no doubt test both patience and imagination. It was during one of these spontaneous and unscripted occasions, that I realized the sheer magnitude of an innocent view of life.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” a simple question posed to my kids, had me besieged by a variety of answers. Surprisingly, other than the expected and completely acceptable answers like Veterinarian, Engineer and Scientist, was the less expected Princess, Unicorn, Spider-man, and Mermaid answer.
Naturally, the later responses simply knocked me off my feet and I instinctively felt the need to giggle at this seemingly ridiculous suggestion. The responsible and logical “grown up” in me wanted to immediately correct the absurd notion that clearly from the twinkle in their eyes was the most exciting prospect of their future. Mustering every ounce of courage in me, I simply smiled and said, “that’s amazing!” and just like that, unscathed, we were on to the next subject.
Later, in the solitary harmony of my thoughts, I had the opportunity to deeply reflect on this interaction and replay the moment over in my mind. What would have been the possible outcome, had I not stopped myself? What would their reactions have been had I indeed responded instinctively? I shudder to think that in a split second, I could have been responsible for dimming the light of a perfectly innocent imagination. I could have been the Grinch who stole a dream. Of course the critics among you would contest that the responsible thing to have done was to be honest with my little ones and let them know that a dream to become a mystical creature is completely unrealistic and impossible, although, I appeal to you dear reader to consider the alternate theory.
When we consider the innocence of a child, we cannot help but be amazed and awed by their sheer reckless abandon. Every thought, every action filled with limitless possibility and hope. Nothing seems impossible to a 5-year-old. They would take the chance to glide at top speed down the steepest slide in the playground. They would push every personal limitation to jump the highest on a bouncy castle.
They would never give a second thought to trying something new because for them, everything is new and ready to be discovered. It’s us grown-ups that place the limitations on everything. It’s our hearts that jump into our throats when we see them climb the stairs to the slide, our pulse that start to race when we see them bouncing around and it’s our hair that stands up on the back of our necks when we catch a glimpse of them trying to taste the end of a shoe.
When did we as adults lose our imagination, or passion to fulfil our dreams? When did we stop believing that everything is possible? Perhaps it’s not the rational concept of becoming a unicorn or mermaid when they grow up, perhaps we need to look at what that represents. Perhaps you and I, as the logical, pragmatic and level headed adults we are, need to read deeper into what these little darlings are saying.
Could it be that a unicorn may represent creativity and out of the box thinking? Maybe mermaids represent transformation, change and agility. Could it be that Spiderman does actually represent that with great power comes great responsibility?
I believe our greatest fear is fear itself and truth be told we ultimately shackle ourselves within the dreary dungeon of normalcy for the fear of what a little imagination might reveal.
We were all 5 once, and it was then that we truly believed. Believed in hope, life, love and most importantly ourselves.