Thursday, January 30, 2020

That's What Children Have Taught Me

One of the most important things I've learned in my life is that no one ever knows what they're doing. We all wake up each morning to find that life isn't as we want it, we spend our day wrestling it into shape as best we can, then we wake up the following day to do it again.

The great advantage that children have over most of us adults is that as long as they know that they are loved, they live their days in full knowledge that they don't know what they are doing, that they are going to have to figure it out, cobble it together, and count on the other people to help get them through. Children spring from bed, anticipating the unknown that lies before them, embracing it, laughing when its good and crying when it's bad. They know that the love is the important thing and the rest is not knowable until we get there and even then mostly in hindsight.

Too many adults, enter our days with a sense of dread. We likewise know, in our hearts, no matter what our age, that we don't know what we're doing, but we fear that we should, that we must, that everyone else does. We worry about judgement, about failure, about being revealed as frauds. We cover it in bravado, with toxic positivity, with brusqueness, or the superficial trappings of success, hoping somehow to convince the others (because we'll never fully convince ourselves) that we know what we're doing. We descend into depression, we struggle with anxiety, and only when we get to a breaking point do we seek the help we've needed all along. And we tend to take the love for granted.

From children I've learned the great joy to be found in admitting to myself and to others that I don't know what I'm doing; the great joy in embracing each day as a way to once more engage in the grand project of figuring it all out and asking for help. I don't always succeed, of course, but whether I anticipate or dread, I fall and fail as much as the next person, as much as any child. I wrestle the day back into shape as best I can and wake up the following day to do it again. I laugh and cry. When I remember what the children have taught me, however, when I put the love first, that's when I most fully live. That's what children have taught me.

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