There is a book I like a lot. Its final sentence reads: “It is never too late to have a happy childhood”.
I was in my early twenties when I read it and my childhood had been relatively happy. But I tend to take stuff written in books very seriously. Why had the author chosen to end a book about an improbable love story with this sentence?
It was around that time that I started to travel.
When you travel, time sort of expands. You are amazed at how many things can fit in a minimum of days. The simplest experience seems unique and majestic. Waking up in another place is different to waking up in your own bed. Even coffee tastes different.
Now think of your daily routine. When you’re always trying to beat the clock, when twenty-four hours are never enough to do everything you have to do, only to find at the end of the day that you did nothing exceptional and that the Rolling Stones’ “Time is on my side” was a lie.
A few years ago, I started my training as a theater educator for children. So I had to scrape the hardened “adult” mask off my face and remember what it is to play like a child.
When children play, you can tell they are entirely present and committed to the moment- both physically and mentally. I wonder how many of us can tell that about themselves and in which occasions.
When children play, they revel in the joy of discovering their surroundings. Everything is new and amazing in their eyes. Adults usually walk looking down at the ground, in the certainty that nothing new is to be discovered around them.
When children play, they don’t think much. They just do it. The rules are not there to control the game, but only to make it funnier. And if the game is not fun any more, they change the rules. And the game goes on and on. Because when children play, time ceases to exist.
Adults are not that comfortable with the thought that they cannot control everything, especially time.
Except for when we travel. That’s when we rediscover the child within us and its innate ability to always look at the world around us with brand-new, ecstatic eyes.
So I guess this is the story of how a catchy line from a bestselling American author, along with a continuing education program defined who I am today.
Who I like to be.