Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Childlike Wonder

By now you should all be making your way through Mike Yaconelli's book Dangerous Wonder (we'll be talking about it at our next mentoring meetings). In the early chapters Mike talks a lot about having a childlike faith, a sense of wonder, adventure, playful abandon, irresponsible passion, etc. He also talks about that moment when each of us lose that childlike wonder. It happens at different times and in different ways for each of us.

Personally, I stopped being a child when my parents moved from my childhood home of Toledo, Ohio to rural Michigan when I was in the 5th grade. It didn't happen all at once, but gradually I started to lose the sense of intense imagination that I had possessed all through childhood. As a kid I was constantly creating imaginary worlds in my head: building castles and kingdoms, fighting World War III in my backyard, going on long journeys of exploration in my neighborhood.

Shortly after we moved I got hit with the onset of puberty, and a year later I skipped a grade, which effectively meant that all my classmates were suddenly already a whole year further into adolescence. Both of those factors combined to squelch my ability to create these worlds in the same way.

I remember there was one day in 7th Grade (I was still only 12) when a friend and I went out to the woods to play army and right away I knew something was different. It just wasn't the same anymore. The "reality" of it was gone. It just seemed silly and childish. I don't know why it happened right then, but I never went out to play army anymore after that.

When did it happen to you? When did you lose your childlike attributes? Are there any that you think it was good to lose? Which would you try to get back if you could?


JillF said...

Having two older brothers, and no sisters, it was easy to be a tomboy. I liked trees, bikes, building things, and playing softball or football. I thought playing school was dumb and playing with dolls was not interesting. In school I was the kid with my hand in the air-all the way through college. It never crossed my mind that there were bad questions.I stopped being a child when I started to focus on boys gradually from 4th grade on. I was interested in athletics but there were few sports for girls then so we were spectators at the boys games. Too bad I didn't develop my artistic interests at an earlier age. I liked art in Jr High but didn't pursue it in high school. I did pursue boys.
I still feel childlike and don't take myself too seriously for too long. And still want to raise my hand in class.

WarePhreak Wyncoop said...

Haven't started the book yet as I just received it from Amazon yesterday. Also am busy reading More Ready Then You Realize for vision team.

My brother and I are close in age (1 day shy of 17 months) and generally there were very few kids close to our age that lived nearby. So we tended to play with the kids I babysit that were around 10 years younger than us. Neither one of us minded although we did get teased about it sometimes.

I probably would say I haven't lost it so much as put it on the top shelf or back burner in order to focus on life's responsibilities. Rarely, I will take it down, dust it off and enjoy it for a little while until adulthood calls again.

Part of me wants to build the cool spy van I thought up as a young teenager and still occaionally examine and tweak the idea, so I might still do it one day.

Jen said...

I don't remember being involved in elaborate play growing up until in fourth grade this strange girl from Maine moved in and skipped up to my grade. I thought she was weird but she lived just a couple houses down from me so in the Summer we could be friends. She really taught me how to play immaginatively and create incredible neighborhood adventures. Then she moved half-way through our fifth grade year and quickly I let the play go again to persue being a part of the popular group. But I had left it long enough to apperently never regain the status. I almost regret not playing more as a child but I am who I am based on that history and I don't regret that.

Brandy said...

I think this is a bit of a hard question for me... I never really had a strong relationship with my parents, and my mother is not the most stable of people, so from as early as i could remember, i had to play the parent and had to be the 'grown up' in the situation. i know this was not always the case, i just do not remember when it was not. The realities of life i think hit me quite early.
It makes sense to say that there were some things that were good to loose, but I am not sure what. Maybe it would be better to say there are things to gain in the lost--a greater concern for others, responsibility... as far as what i could get back, perhaps the term wonder covers it well. A wonder for the world, for the beauty in it, as well as for the badness in it, which now seems normal and just "part of life." I think kids have the ability to see things more clearly and take things for what they are--they dont have life to subjectify their experiences.

A Simple Desultory Phillipic said...

Well, anyone who knows me at all knows that I am still a very childish person, but when did I lose my childlike wonder? Well, Mike and I talked about it at the last meeting, but up until 8th grade, I was an honor student, head of every class, smart little guy. But as soon as I hit 8th grade, my brain seemed to stop working at taking in knowledge for things that people would call "intelligent" i.e. math, science, whatnot. I failed my first class and then started on a downward spiral of self aggression, cynicism, skepticism, and having a generally sarcastic attitude. You all know me now, the total optimist, and I wish I had always been one, but it took me a long time to fight my demons, the ones that said I should be smarter than others since I had for so long. It was like I had hit a brick wall. Everyone kept learning more, and all I was interested in was learning ideas rather than learning static facts.