I try to view the world through a child’s eyes on a regular basis. Everyday life requires an analytical perspective that squelches imagination and wonder. Everything gets mired in the empiric. Everything must be quantifiable. We lose the ability to marvel at that which we do not fully understand or consider what we cannot comprehend.
It is our ability to wonder that promotes the growth of knowledge and wisdom and helps us to keep a youthful perspective on life. Can we yet remember the mystery and grandeur of the world around us when we were young? So much of what we saw fell outside the boundaries of our understanding that our parents were superheroes and all the world was magical.
The Western mindset increasingly precludes the likelihood of the supernatural, save in the imagination. In the arena of fundamentalist Christian orthopraxy, the supernatural is theoretically acceded but practitioners often seem genuinely surprised when it actually materializes. Miracle is generally placed in the realm of the improbable, rather than the commonplace.
Vine Deloria, Jr.’s final book, The World We Used To Live In, documents how the “black robes” attributed the feats of Native medicine people to “powers of darkness”, because they had no framework of their own in which to place it. The Church roundly condemns “magic” except when they practice it themselves.
When my grandchildren were young, quite a few years ago, while my wife and I were providing daycare for them, I was reminded of that childish perspective. My step-children were entering their teen years when I married their mother, so they were long past the age of wonder. They were faced with the pragmatic realities of finding their place in their world. But my grandchildren made me their hero. Their father once remarked that I was their favorite toy, because I so enjoyed participating in their reality.
They taught me quite a few lessons about seeing their world through their eyes. These now compose my favorite stories from those years; including how a “caroon can be rabbit” and how to become “smashy”. It is a joy to see a child light up with the wonder and awe of a lighted Christmas tree, to witness the anthropomorphing of their stuffed animals, and to participate in their reconstruction of “grown-up” activities. It is, likewise, sobering to realize how much of our behaviors become integrated into theirs, as they study to become us.
It would do us all good to recognize that there is much in our universe that we cannot quantify. That there are realms of alternate reality that we can only visit outside our physical selves. That there are planes of existence higher than ours; we are, indeed, not the apex of existence. We need to recapture our awe of the unknown and the magic of the unexplainable.