“I love those random childhood memories that make me smile no matter what is going on in my life right now.” — Anonymous
Let me begin by saying “silver” in the title may indicate grey in my hair, but as a reflective metal, it also takes you back in time and gives you the most wonderful memories of the child in you, the youth that you were and the mature old adult that you are now.
Channelling your inner life and going back to jumping off swings at the park, jumping over walls to play cricket at a school ground, playing hide and seek with your friends are much more than physical activity. These are the therapeutic experiences and memories of innocence, playfulness, fun and creativity. They give you hope and a reason for living as you grow. The inner child in you promotes well being, trust and compassion. Fortunately I had caring parents, loving siblings and great friends and I did not go through trauma or memories of past wounds as an adult. I am what I am today, because the candle of innocence and fun still flickers in my brain and heart.
How we long to meet the child that lives within us but because of the life we lead, it still plays “ hide and seek” with us.
Without sounding like a school teacher, I will try to share some lessons that I have learnt in the journey we call life.
The child in me is me. It is not a different person. It is just asking me to keep an open mind to the world. There is bound to be uncertainty, a mix of positive and negative events and experiences, but these helped me build my character, develop curiosity, belief in myself and face adulthood and growing old.
I continue to find joy in the smaller things of life, seek simplicity in complex circumstances and fantasize about movies, birthdays and school picnics and an upturned palm for the occasional cane.
I have experienced the joy of flipping through family albums, school reports, diaries and sitting with your parents, siblings and your children. I joyfully open a whole new world of memories and feelings.
I try to spend time doing things I enjoyed as a child. Scrabble? Cycling? Visiting a place where I stayed with my grandparents, uncles and cousins? Ring a bell? Sure does. Doing things that I didn’t have to, but wanted to.
Have you talked to the child in you? It’s a great experience. It can help both to understand traumas, childhood fears and adult inhibitions and insecurities. You needn’t speak too loud, just being soft and gentle like you talk to a child is enough!
I am no psychologist or psychiatrist, but if I try and do a bit of rudimentary analysis to probe into my early experiences as a child to help me understand the reasons of some of my fears and phobias as I age, I can today empathise with myself for my dread of closed rooms, crowded places, loneliness, nervousness about little things. Fortunately I have understood what I am today because of what I was as a child and I am more child-like than childish.
I try to be with people, laugh a lot. I try to write, purely for my own satisfaction and that gives a great high. I try to be open (maybe a bit too much) but as I coast though my 77, the child in me wants to stay with me and I see that as a good sign.
Maybe my child within me is small, vulnerable, and in need of protection and support. Maybe, on the other hand, it’s joyfully reverberating inside me. I always remind myself that finding my child in me does not mean I am immature or don’t want to grow up. I believe it enhances my experience as an adult and helps me heal my pains in relationships and makes me a more compassionate person.
Keeping the Child In Me
If one was not materialistic, ambitious, selfish and cynical as we age, there are some childish traits I would like to bring back and keep for myself. Children are curious and want to know the why of everything. Why should I not be like that?
Children love to explore, building a castle in the sand, finding a pearl in an oyster, and making new friends. I love to travel and as we cannot take anything with us when we go, we can surely enrich ourselves while we are here.
Children are great imagineers and dreamers. I too want to be like that. Physically weaker maybe, but I can imagine a new world or even a new smell, a single malt or a great new lunch!
I remember once as a child of seven years, I asked an old lady if she could share an ice cream with me and I could give her a hug. Such acceptance of strangers without prejudging is what I would like in myself.
Innocence, where are you? I was there when I was a child and am still trying to find you.
I was happy when I had my cycle, my friends and my chocolates and said thank you every time I got a freebie. I try to focus on being grateful and saying Thank You to God and my fellow beings every day.
Hugs and kisses, cards and gifts brought more joy to me than I’d like to believe now. Loving is not complicated or rocket science. I tell people how lovely I feel when I am in their company and how fortunate I am in my old age.
Believing I could climb Mount Everest when I saw pictures of the Himalayas wasn’t a wild dream. It was just me being a child. I believe my old age is just an excuse for not doing things. How sad.
As a child,if I fell down, I looked around to see if anyone was looking and would dust my feet, lick my wounds and run again. I tell myself not to fear even if people are looking. I am old. That’s it.
The Same Age Inside
Let’s turn a bit and look at the funnier side of ageing and the child inside us. How I have evolved as a person from childhood to “old-age-hood”. To me, it is a means of coping with the painful process of getting old and I believe it is more important especially to manage the niggles and doctors in my life.
You must have noticed that a baby’s laughter begins with tickling and bouncing, cheek-pinching, bird sounds and funny actions. I still do a lot of that with my grandchildren and get as much laughter and joy as the child. And she doesn’t think I am a weird guy! A charming smile and a giggle takes me to heaven without dying. On a more serious note, in some manner it empowers me, gives me a feeling of security and reminds me that life is fun.
Moviements like dancing, falling, wiggling your feet, create humour. We don’t laugh any more at someone missing a step and falling or bumping their head, because we realise that as we age, our motor control slows and this is something we have to accept. As a child she is gaining motor control with these actions, but other children laugh as they are not bound by rationality.
Social connect is a great road to bonding as you age. As children, we used to laugh at the craziest things, not really realising that we are breaking down boundaries and building bonds that oftentimes last throughout our life.
Humour ticks the right places in our brain. I remember laughing till tears flowed down my eyes. I still laugh, but tears do not happen. Age retains the child in you but does funny things to your physical being.
Last, the physicality of becoming old is real. How real? As a child I peed in my little nappy shaped as a triangle. They call them diapers now.
As an old man, nothing has changed.
Amen to Childhood.
Age 77 years
Villa 13, Covai S3 Retirement Community