Being childlike can be a great thing. Acting childish however is unbecoming on an adult. There is so much we can learn from children and the more I watch them the more I understand the quote about the impossibility of teaching an old dog new tricks. Tell an adult and a child to try something new and the responses will likely be different. Who do you think is more daring? That’s easy to answer: the child.
Case in point, at the gym as we drew to the end of Pilates class the instructor says to us that he would like us to try something new. A new pose he said. Before demonstrating what it was he started by beseeching us all to give it a shot. “Please try. Don’t give up before you try.” Of course in my mind (and I imagine the others were thinking the same) I started to wonder what crazy thing was he about to ask us to do. He then went on to demonstrate from a squat position how to raise the body supported by his hands – palms flat on the mat and elbows facing out and supporting the inside of the knees. It is supposed to be great for balance and strengthening arms. It looked like a move for gymnasts, acrobats or yogis. I instantly thought “Ha (sarcastic) right. Like that’s going to happen. Impossible.” Some laughed, one or two watched but didn’t even attempt. He simplified it by providing a step by step process whe you start by pushing off or lifting one leg off the ground and then the other. “What if I fall?” That was the most common question asked. I started off saying to myself that it was impossible for me to do it. But there he was gently insisting and calling out everyone by name. He even came and stood in front of me and urged me to keep at it. I struggled until I managed to do it. For all of 3 seconds. Lol!
After class as we milled around the water dispenser one of the ladies stated that many of us could do that and more when we were kids. To which someone responded that as kids we didn’t have much fear. However as adults most of us have strengthened the fear pathways in our brain through both experience and our imagination. So when asked to do something we haven’t done before the fear conversation starts in our head and the questions roll out “What if I’m not good at it?” “What if I fail/fall?” “What if I get laughed at/embarrassed?” “Why, and then what?” On the other hand show a kid something new and without much encouragement off they go.. Our daughter only needs to see something once and she will try to do it. Her face sets into a determined and focused look and proceeds to try and try until she succeeds or sometimes ends up screaming out in frustration and comes over to ask for help.
Childlike boldness and the novelty with which they experience even the simplest things would drastically change our lives. Next time I come across a new experience I hope I remember this and instead of getting paralyzed by fear may my response be to embrace the new experience and die trying (hopefully not literally). I wish you a childlike weekend! Do that thing that you’ve been afraid to try. It could be as simple as a haircut or signing up for a half marathon. Just do it! Mark Twain said “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.”