Watching my children play, I am reminded of the wonder and beauty of small and simple things. There is enough joy in a glass of milk to send a three year old dancing around the kitchen; there is enough beauty in a well-done coloring page to keep a distractible, active four year old still and entranced watching it happen; there is enough passion in a stuffed animal to occupy the full attention and imagination of the one year old who walk around snuggling and protecting it.
There is enough depth in their world that they can delve into these small things over and over again, exploring the fullness of their experiences, stretching their imaginations out through vast spaces from these everyday beginnings. One day they are building monsters and dragons; the next they are building animals, having gained enough mastery of their tools to move from imaginary works where anything goes to representative modeling. The tool itself is ever fresh, ever new, drawing them continually in. One day they are digging holes; the next they are building mountains; after that they are creating volcanos: for in the same patch of ground they can create whatever their imagination pictures, with enough time spent cultivating their abilities.
When something as simple as mud can keep you occupied for hours, you know you have the power to immerse yourself in the world around you, to fully enjoy and be present in the sensations and realities of where you are, to let go into the wonder and beauty of the wild and set your imagination free to run and explore and create.
“The whole object of real art, of real romance – and above all, of real religion – is to prevent people from losing the humility and gratitude which are thankful for daylight and daily bread; to prevent them from regarding daily life as dull or domestic life as narrow; to teach them to feel lin the sunlight the song of Apollo and in the bread the epic of the plough. What is now needed most is intensive imagination. I mean the power to turn our imaginations inwards, on the things we already have, and to make those things live. It is not merely seeking new experiences, which rapidly become old experiences. It is really learning how to experience our experiences. It is learning how to enjoy our enjoyments.” – G.K.Chesterton, ILN, October 20, 1924
When the height of the slide and the rush of the wind and the overwhelming beauty of the wild sky at sunset make you lean back your head and shout with the glory of it all, you may have remembered how to wonder, as you once did when you were a child and all the world was new.
I hope my children never forget.
“‘Does everyone here grow the way you do?’ puffed Milo when he had caught up.
‘Almost everyone,’ replied Alec, and then he stopped a moment and thought. ‘Now and then, though, someone does begin to grow differently. Instead of down, his feet grow up toward the sky. But we do our best to discourage awkward things like that.’
‘What happens to them?’ insisted Milo.
‘Oddly enough, they often grow ten times the size of everyone else,’ said Alec thoughtfully, ‘and I’ve heard that they walk among the stars.'” – Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth