The face of innocence…have you seen it lately? Have you come across anyone or anything that allows innocence to be displayed ‘full throttle’? Unfortunately we live in a time when there is less and less around. Our lives have become a race against time. Our children are growing up too fast. The media exposes so much violence, nudity, profanity, and corruption that ‘innocence’ is ignored, taken for granted, and minimized.
I was able to realize two wonderful things this past weekend. First, innocence is still around and can be identified, nurtured, and experienced. Second, we can teach parents that many children are robbed of it by the very people that raise them…and most of the time unconsciously.
It is overwhelming enough to have a child, but to throw the mix of careers, money, relationship issues, and the general situations of life can cause tiredness, tension, and short nerves. Unconsciously, children can be ignored, scolded, or ‘aged by our tones of voice, gestures, and physical representations. It is not that the parents are even aware of these actions or that the actions are wrong. What results for the child are beliefs and self talk statements: “I am ‘not good enough’, ‘unworthy’, ‘stupid’, and a whole host of others. These thoughts of self are what we grow up believing. In turn, they influence every interaction and choice in life and the result that manifests. How long can a child remain innocent? Can an adult reclaim their innocence?
When I think of innocence, the words that come to mind are ‘vulnerable’, ‘open’ and ‘light’ (as in shimmering and bright and also not weighted down.) Typically innocence is personified by a child and that is what brought me to this topic. I had the gift of watching a precious little two year old girl play. Her sense of wonderment at the world was beautiful. The laughter that rang from her was contagious. Everything she saw caused her mouth to open and a squeal to escape from her lips. What was even more inspiringly innocent was her Grandmother’s response to her. Her Grandmother followed her around, experiencing the same newness, facial expressions, and sounds. The glow upon her face was matched only by the two year old, Sally.
I continued to watch, in awe, at the magnificent sight. Here was a woman in her 50’s without a care in the world other than the angelic creature in front of her. It did not matter who saw her or what their opinion of her actions was. The Grandmother was ‘innocent’…she was open to experience something in newness…as if for the very first time.
Soon it was time for lunch. I watched the child have a plate of oriental vegetables. Then a Chinese box of rice was placed in front of her. Sally ate and she played with the food. She dug her hands in and out of the box. Sometimes the food ended up on the floor and sometimes in her mouth. The whole time, ‘Na Na’ oohed and aahed at the ‘rice art’. Sally ended up eating very well and created quite a piece of floor art in the process. ‘Na Na’ explained to me that she felt the only way people can truly come to love food is to have freedom with it as a child. Then food will find its rightful place. If proper foods are put in front of growing children and can be seen as fun, then the issues of junk food junkies, anorexia, and bulemia are less common.
I learned quite a lot from Na Na and Sally. I learned that innocence does not stop at a certain age. We can be innocent until the day we pass on. I realized how so many people end up restricting children rather than diving right in with them so that they may re-experience the ‘lightness’ of youth. It also became evident that innocence means allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable.
As human beings, we are so guarded in our actions and our words. We worry about ‘how things will look’, ‘what people will say’, and ‘how much won’t get done’. To reclaim our innocence, we have to shed those veneers. It is necessary to tear down the walls of safety and protection that we have spent our lifetimes building. It is going back to re-experience the core of who we are before we allowed ourselves to become what we are. Innocence means feeling…truly feeling everything. It is the vulnerability of OPENING THE HEART. Allow yourself to feel every emotion to the fullest so that you are alive. Sometimes that will mean pain and sadness. But it will also mean joy, gratitude, and ecstasy.
There comes a point in our lives where we have to decide whether or not to continue the robotic existence that most people come to live in. A robotic existence is where you feel just enough to function through life. It involves the act of boredom where you find yorself yawning through the day. It is not remembering what happened to you in the course of a day. It is being able to make the statement “Where has time gone?” It is when one takes the most painful parts of living, the hurts and sorrows, and puts them on a shelf behind the heart, to be seen on occasion, but mostly ignored. Slowly, the heart becomes numb from the weight of the shelf.
Or, one can make a choice, a conscious choice to make meaning out of all things. This place stems from a decision of understanding that everyone does the best they know how to do. It comes from forgiving oneself, knowing you did what you had to do. And now, you choose again…to live… to feel…to love…to be innocent. A life without feeling is not worth living. Feeling only partially is not a life.
From this day forward, allow yourself the gift of innocence. Experience everything as if for the first time…simply because every new day there is a new you so there should be a new view.
CHEERS TO INNOCENCE!!!
Until the next…Fashion Emergency!!!