How to Think Like an Adult and Imagine Like a Child

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Rachel Carson

Remember how fun it was as a kid to spend all day outside? Remember how easy it was to go outside, and play, imagine and just dream? Why can’t we do that now as adults?
Maybe we don’t want to spend our days making mud pies and climbing trees anymore, but I find myself wishing I could let go of things more easily and let my mind be free to think, dream and imagine.
Of course I have accepted the harsh reality that I can’t go back to that exact place and exact way of being and thinking as I did as a child. I’m an adult and I realize I can’t let go completely anymore. Something may always be swirling around at the back of my mind, like work or finances or some type of worry.

What I have found is I can get back to that place of a carefree spirit and an imaginative mind the easiest when I’m in nature, or when I can go to my special place.
When I say in nature, I don’t mean by just walking outside of my apartment. I mean when I really step outside of my normal day-to-day hurried life. When I slow down, take a deep breath and really open my eyes and all of my senses to my natural surroundings.

Go to your special place:
Sometimes I have the need to get back to that childhood carefree feeling and I can’t get out in nature, because the weather is too bad or I’m stuck at work or in a stressful situation. So, I have a few special places I like to go to in my mind. (If you meditate, it’s wonderful to use visualization and ‘see’ yourself there in your mind as you take deep, cleansing, meditative breaths).

I grew up spending the night with my grandparents on most weekends. When I stayed the night with them, I always slept at my great-grandmother’s house, she lived across the street from my grandparents. My great-grandma, Granny Boo-boo, as she was known, was a strong-willed woman who lived to the ripe old age of 107. She died in her own home, and was fiercely independent. My grandma, who was Granny Boo-boo’s daughter, lived across the street from her and made her breakfast and dinner and slept at Granny Boo-boo’s nightly, should anything happen.
Granny Boo-boo was an amazingly frugal woman, and she had these great old feather beds in her house. Now, if you’ve never slept on a feather bed, my apologies. To me, there is such a simple pleasure in sleeping in an old feather bed. It feels like sleeping on a cloud.
I think what I loved most about Granny Boo-boo’s house was that it was always really quiet. She only turned on the TV to watch the news and Wheel of Fortune. Other than that the TV was never on. In the evenings, I would read or watch Granny Boo-boo sew. Occasionally I was allowed to play her old piano and during the warm months, the three of us would sit on the screened in front porch and talk and watch the way the wind made the trees in her front yard dance.
Spending weekends with my grandma and great-grandma is one of my favorite memories and Granny Boo-boo’s house, particularly the cozy comfort of her feather bed, is one of my special places I go to when I need comfort, relaxation and have something I need to let go of.

Why can’t we find special places as adults?
I don’t understand what happens to us as we age. But it seems like when we’re children, we see the magic, beauty and wonder in nature and/or simple experiences, and somehow, when we grow up, while we gain wisdom, knowledge and experience, we definitely lose some things. I’m not completely convinced it’s a fair trade, to be honest. In fact, had I not had the feather bed experience as a child, and was now, as an adult, faced with sleeping in Granny Boo-boo’s old feather bed, I am not completely sure I could see the pleasure in it. The adult me might look at the mattress and think there’s no way it’s comfortable, it looks all lumpy, and I wonder how sanitary it is, it looks 100 years old!

As adults, how do we lose the fun we had in the little things? Splashing in mud puddles, climbing a tree, the gentle feel of a caterpillar crawling along your index finger, sleeping in old feather beds.

How to get it back:
I’ve thought about ways we can regain some of that wonder and magic from childhood. The most obvious way to me is to slow down. Who can notice the strange shape of the clouds, or the majesty of an oak tree if you’re rushing to your next appointment or next task?
I understand we all have obligations and that’s one of the things that sets adulthood apart from childhood. I’m not suggesting we live our every day lives slowed down completely. I am saying I know from time to time I feel like my life, and in fact, our whole world is just moving too fast. I feel like the days, weeks and months can pass me by in a blur, never mind my surroundings.
Another way I have found to take notice of the beauty I experienced as a child is to change my perception. I’ve found ways to admire the sunset while stuck in a traffic jam commuting home from work, or have been awestruck by the grace of falling snow flakes, rather than complain that it may make the roads slick to drive on.
Long story short, I am still learning ways to make time to slow down, look around and notice the wonder of our world.

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