of children, compared to the world of adults, is like an inverted
pyramid. It has a way, a style, and a perspective, which
is very different, at times even opposed to the perspective
of us ‘grown-ups’. Children look at things and events very
differently and many times we grownups do not understand this
perspective. I realized
this as I interacted with my own two little daughters and
with other children. I began to see more and more that children
have to offer to us adults a lot; that they are worthy teachers
who see, sense and appreciate many things that we adults usually
fail to see.
One of the very
first and probably the most striking quality of children that
I noticed was that these amazing human entities possess an
unmatched sense of wonder in all things of life. A child
is a wonder struck being who sees, senses and appreciates
mystery and becomes wonder struck in things big and small.
This appreciation and fascination extends to the realm
of the very insignificant, even to the seemingly useless,
like bottle caps and pieces of toys rather than complete (and
This led me to think about us adults and about our sense
of wonder in things of life. I remember that many times when
I used to get attractive and expensive toys for my daughters,
sooner or later, they would leave these and would begin to focus
on something very insignificant and on something that was not
even a toy! Sometimes this used to frustrate me. But then I
slowly realized that the problem was not with them. It was with
me. Infact it was not a problem at all. It was a ‘clash’
between their (children’s) sensitivity to and hunger for the
reality around them that led to a sense of wonder and appreciation
and created a capacity for imagination in them, and the dryness,
lack of wonder and imagination and indifference of the adult
that I was.
a child to become excited and mesmerized by things,
it does not always take the moon or an elephant, but
a pebble, a stone, a broken dried up twig, a bubble.
We adults are fully aware of the volley of questions
shot at us by this wonder struck philosophic entity,
the human person with an actively alive mind and a growing
passion for reality around him. “Mama what is this?”
“Papa why is this like this?” So the chanting goes on
and on. This is the child’s way to express his sense
of enchantment and wonder, his nature to seek, to know
and to relate. It is a quest for expansion and meaning.
The child is rooted in the reality around him and explores
it and extracts from it all that adds to him and expands
his knowledge and experience.
A child is nascent and fresh, straight from the creator’s anvil.
He is hungry and eager. He has that inner space that is a pre-requisite
to any growth and expansion of a person’s being. The child is
like a black hole absorbing, assimilating and integrating reality
into his being. He is a captive to the force of wonder and imagination.
This state of the child and the ‘grown-up ness’ of us adults
do not match. They are incompatible. This is what was reflected
in my frustration.
Contrary to this wonder-struck state of the child, we ‘grown-ups’
become so familiar with things around us that we completely
loose freshness and newness in relating with them. Our inner
space seems to become stuffed with the cares of the rat race
that we find ourselves to be in. We become robots that perform
human-like functions. We run and run this rat race with more
and more seepage of our mannishness i.e. the dimensions that
make us different and superior to machines and animals. Let
me ask you that when was the last time that you went to your
garden and took sometime to admire the plants and the flowers
that you got planted?
When was it
the last time that you looked at the fishes in your aquarium
and fed them yourself rather than asking someone else to do
feed them for you? What about the wonder of that miracle called
language, something that we employ practically every moment?
We have become too passive even in our entertainments; we
would rather sit in an armchair and clap at the goal scored
by someone else (and clap at the thrill that he experiences!)
than go out into the football field ourselves and get a taste
of that thrill and wonder first hand! We have indeed lost
this art of experiencing wonder. It is as if our personalities
have undergone a mechanization and loss of organicity. It
is as if personality and personhood do not matter to us any
more! We have become materialized and lifeless.
When we begin to loose this child-like sense of wonder and
adventure in life, we loose something much more critical
along with it. We undergo what I will call a ‘design mutation’.
By this I mean that we humans were originally made to possess
certain child-like dimensions or child-like parameters or
qualities, including a very basic sense of wonder. This was
our design. But now there seems to have been immense erosion
in this child-like sense of wonder and other child-like dimensions
and we have undergone a ‘design mutation’ i.e. a mutation
has taken place in our original design. This mutation, this
distortion in us, in our psyche has led to a whole lot of
psychological and relational problems. These in turn have
only become multiplied and more glaring in our modern times.
that child-likeness is a critical key to the adult’s mental
health for in the child, there are principles, there are
paradigms that take us (at least to some extent) to the state
which humans were designed to possess in the very first place.
The child’s carefree attitude to things in life, his inner
space to enjoy and appreciate the reality around him, his
humility and capacity to accommodate insults directed to him
and finally his simple heartedness out of which come out sparks
of truth and purity are some dimensions that we adults and
‘grownups’ have lost. As a consequence of this loss, we have
become deficient in ourselves, in our make up and have become
poor and empty. I believe that a return to some of these child-like
dimensions is very much the need of the hour, especially in
our sick modern age. Child-likeness is the paradigm that we
ought to adopt. Let us adopt it.