I was instantly captivated.
She was playing with angelic innocence.
Passing time with effortless simplicity in its most natural state.
She had no toys, she had no company—it was just her, and the brick wall she was balancing on.
Long, unruly hair blew wild and free in the wind.
Her arms were wings as she extended them out to her side, and appropriately tilted them to prevent herself from falling.
Her mouth was moving in time with every perfectly placed footstep. A magical chant? A sweet tune? Simple words of self encouragement?
Every now and then a smile would appear on her porcelain doll face, a genuine expression of pride in her accomplishment.
She proceeded to leap off the end of the wall with a large burst of childlike energy, throwing her arms and legs into position for a safe landing.
Without a thought she moved onto the next activity, leaving the wall climbing behind her.
She skipped and hopped her way to the pavement where she jumped from paver to paver, in an attempt to miss the lines.
I remember playing that game, and I remember the joy that came with it.
As I observed her youthful magnificence, I wondered how long she had left.
How long she would be blessed with living naturally and effortlessly in the present moment.
Where the involvement in an uncomplicated task still had the ability to provide great personal pleasure.
When balancing on walls and jumping to miss lines on the pavement were the only things that mattered, at that exact point in time.
When is it, exactly, that we lose this gift?
Could the loss of our ability to be present in the moment be related to the development of awareness?
As our awareness grows, we develop a perception of who we are and how we fit into the world. As such, we become increasingly conscious of our behaviours. Our once natural enjoyment of the simple things in life becomes rapidly tainted by our desire for acceptance.
This seems to become apparent in early adolescence when our once thriving free spirit is swallowed up by conformity and fear. The fear of ridicule. The fear of difference.
So, naturally, we let go of dodging the lines and balancing on walls in favour of hanging out in hierarchical groups, consistently calling on our newfound awareness to compare ourselves to others.
Am I normal? Am I the same as them?
And so it begins.
The constant interference of thought clouding our ability to fully embrace the present moment.
Our once natural tendency to transition from moment to moment whilst remaining effortlessly present, seemingly wiped from our psyche.
In spectacular irony, we supposedly wise and enlightened adults often spend our entire lives, trying to get back there.
We philosophize, we research, we write self help books on the topic, all in aim of finding the magic recipe that has been lost. A recipe that remains within all of us, elusively buried, underneath the sophistication of thought and awareness.
So as I sit here and watch her play with a beautiful sense of innocence and simplicity, I am thankful.
Thankful, she has reminded me, that every time I see a Great Wall, I must climb it with a smile on my face.
And every time I walk on the pavement, I must try hard not to step on the lines.
Because that’s where the recipe is hiding, openly, in all its glory, for all to see.
Author: Nicole Martin
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Denise P.S./Flickr