Today, I went for a walk to the beautiful park that I am lucky to have at walking distance. I saw a bunch children’s backpacks under the trees. The kids were there for some sort of nature appreciation project. A few were busy picking pink bougainvillea flowers that lay scattered on the grass, and dried twigs. Many ran around the park, laughing, playing games. A little day dreamer ran into me as I walked on the track, lost in his own world, clutching a twig. Another little one ran around, the branch in his hand held up as a sword, in a dreamworld of his, where maybe he was a knight.
Though it has been a long time since I was a kid, it’s not been so long since I pretended to be one. In my creative writing class last year, we went through a workshop to help us get in touch with our free, playful, creative natural self before it was chained. One of the students who was also a dad had been tasked with bringing toys. He’d brought along little Hot Wheel cars, some bigger fancier cars, and teddy bears, and dolls.
Pretend you’re in kindergarten and play, Menon sir said. Do what you want. Don’t hold back.
It began soon. “Kids” ran across the room, shouting loudly. In another group, the kids smashed the cars into each other. One broke. A little girl hung on to her stuffed toy and wouldn’t let go, It’s mine! I sat, a little away from the group of mostly boys who were busy orchestrating accidents with the little cars, with my teddy bar in my arms. I held him close for comfort and whispered little secrets into his ear. I walked sometime with him, holding him close, and then went back to my perch, hugging him tightly, glad he was around in all the loudness and excitement of cars crashing into each other that the others seemed to enjoy so much.
Why don’t you play? Do something, Menon sir cajoled. Act like you’re in kindergarten. This is how I was in kindergarten, I told him.
This is how I still am. Easily stimulated by loudness, aggression, crowds. But also dreamy, imaginative, and kind. I had real empathy for myself during that workshop, when I realized how over-stimulated I probably was as a kid, with little control over my environment.
Today, when I saw the little ones who marched to the beat of their own drum, sensed little kindred spirits.
Enjoyed this post? You might enjoy the wonderful Susan Cain’s treatise on introversion, Quiet.
If you know someone who’d relate, do share this with them. And for more posts on self-awareness and living better, do follow the blog. Thank you!