Do You See What I See?

Oct 23, 2022

The older we get, it seems, the more we tend to see the world in only black and white.  The extravagant, beautiful, kaleidoscope expanse of a landscape that is our youth can filter out into a monotonous, sepia-tone hum-drum routine without us even realizing.  It’s only when we really pause to pay attention that we can take in a few more colours to brighten our outlook on things.  We have a harder time seeing the things that kids see, and we’re even more stubborn about it when those younger than us, and I mean way younger than us, have come up with obvious solutions to problems we have a knack for over-complicating.  Children have the advantage on us through their general fearlessness, sense of exploration, and overall comfort with being ‘wrong’, at least they do for a time.  It’s not until we are taught, through various societal interactions, that there is some mis-placed sense of shame from being incorrect.  As long as we are young, we are fine with giving things a shot, taking a guess and using our imaginations to fill in some gaps, and I’m trying my best to preserve this with our children.

Don’t get me wrong: I, too, am guilty of looking at certain objects, situations and equations through a very defined lens; I try not to, but I know it’s true.  That’s why I really enjoy and breathe in the moments when my children remind me that ‘the thing I’m looking at’ is not necessarily ‘the thing I think it is’. For example:

On the One Hand:

This is a handy-dandy tool that comes with every Lego kit and is used for separating otherwise difficult to separate pieces.  It can be a lifesaver for your nails and, for the most part, prevents tiny little pieces from flying across the room and down into the air vent.

On the Other:

This is a delivery system for eating Cheerios in a far more satisfying manner, launching them into your siblings mouth one little ‘O’ at a time.

One the One Hand:

This pile of popsicle sticks, while I do recall from youth pairing well with Elmer’s white school glue for making a variety of log cabins, houses and Gi.I. Joe hideouts, are now something I see mostly as something I’m going to need to clean up later.  I think they really lost their value to me when Popsicle Pete points stopped being a thing.

On the Other:

These are everything from doctor’s tools to puppet sticks and crafty little minds can go to work quickly on creating a multitude of scenarios that can be acted out with innocence and pure ingenuity.

On the One Hand:

This is a page on which someone was practicing writing the letter ‘p’ with diligence and pride.

On the Other:

  • This is a page on which someone was practicing writing the letter ‘d’ with diligence and pride.
  • This is a page on which someone was practicing writing half notes for an upcoming music lesson.
  • This is a page on which someone was drawing an army of lower case ‘b’s running away from an eraser.

On the One Hand:

Icing a cake, cupcake, cookie or any other delicacy should be done so with precision, care and purpose.  The end result should be beautiful; a piece of edible art that you almost feel guilty biting into.

On the Other:

Icing a cake should be fun and delicious and the end result should represent one’s own, interpretive creative vision.  The finished product should bring happiness and joy…I mean, come on: it’s cake!

On the One Hand:

This is a reminder of all of the work I have not done.  It represents the journal entries I neglected to fill out, the lists I never made, and the stories I never told.  It is an intimidating thing I must do.

On the Other:

This is a blank slate; an opportunity for me tell any story I want, paint any picture I desire, or set out to create an adventure I want to record.  It is anything I want it to be.

Indeed perspective is an interesting thing, and I’ve no doubt that I stroll through every day missing out on endless potential and opportunity; that’s likely unavoidable to some degree at any age.  That said, I do make concerted efforts to stop and try to see things differently and through alternate lenses.  Did they organize these books backwards, for example?  Or are they counting down to something amazing?

It shouldn’t matter what age or stage we are at in life;  when we allow ourselves to be free and silly, cast away fear of how others might perceive us and use our imagination and sense of play, a whole new layer comes to light, and it’s then that we get to experience so much more.  I’m not sure what specifically sparked my passion for this topic today; maybe it’s the way that 15 degrees in the Fall feels different than 15 degrees in Spring. Or maybe that my daughter is about to turn 7, and all of the memories and images of the past year are flooding back, reminding me of growth and change.  Maybe it’s that I now recognize how awesome it is to eat my Cheerios with a Lego launcher. Whatever it is, I almost feel like someone should write a charming rhyming children’s book, complete with gorgeous illustrations all about perspective, imagination and play through various ages; imagine that!

Try it yourself, throughout your day today: look at something, anything, and then try to consider it as being something else entirely.  Who knows what you might invent in the process!

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