“You are actually a kid at heart”, said my friend to me some days back. What prompted her to say so was my penchant for going out and getting wet in the rains when it is pouring. Add to it my reluctance to use an umbrella unless I have my laptop with me, and you get a classic picture of a kid who has grown old but refuses to grow up. 😀 That remark set me thinking. I was about to write a post on it when work happened to ransack my schedule, and the post got placed on the back burner. Then a couple of days back, an office colleague remarked, “You always seem so calm, its almost like you are unaffected by anything around you.”. Now, these are two rather contradictory observations. After all, you expect a kid to be anything but calm. However, both are quite correct in their own right, and this is what today’s post is all about.
Firstly, I will say that it is not as much of a contradiction as it seems – to be a kid and to stay calm at the same time. I can only speak from my own experience and observation, so it is quite likely that your take on this will differ from mine. What I have seen that typically people confuse “being child-like” with “being childish”. What they don’t understand that maturity is not necessarily achieved at the cost of innocence/optimism. When it is, it amounts to cynicism, not maturity. For me, being a kid at heart is not as easy as it seems to a casual observer. It has taken (and continues to take) lots of effort to keep that kid alive and kicking. When the rains come calling, and I stretch my head/hands/legs out of the window to get wet or go jumping in the puddles (yup, I do that – now you know why I get called a kid), it is not just because I enjoy the rains, it is also because I choose to remember the happy moments and memories that the rains bring, and leave behind the not so happy ones. 🙂
Being a kid is not child’s play – this is what I have always believed. It involves facing up to all that life has to offer, and yet not let that inner child lose his innocence and zest for life. This is where the outer adult comes into play (pun intended). While the inner child keeps the innocence alive, the outer adult shields him from the vagaries of day-to-day life and lets him play happily. How does he do it? Simple – by not allowing the kid to get disheartened if things don’t go his way. “Somebody was mean to you? Hey, you know what you are..right? That fellow doesn’t know you.” The kid looks up to the adult for an assurance – if things get messed up, he will still have a safe haven to go. If there are tears in his eyes, someone will be around to wipe them off and bring the smile back. If he misbehaves, he can be sure his ass will be spanked and he will be told to shut up. 😉
So, does this mean that the adult plays the more important role of the two? NO. Where do you think this outer adult derives his strength, his “calm” from? Who do you think prevents him from being cynical when the world tries to screw him over?Yup, you got that right. Much as the child is dependent on the adult for protection, the adult owes his sanity to that little kid. For it is the kid who manages to make him smile when he is faced with disappointment. It is his optimism that cheers the adult when his shoulders sag with the world weighing on them. And it is the kiddo who tells him…”hey, you sad about something? Oh you don’t need to be…come on cheer up.” when he needs someone who will believe in him.
Rather than getting into an endless (and fruitless) analysis of who is more important, and what role should one be playing, I will keep it simple – both these guys have been vital in making me what I am, keeping me sane while not letting go of my craziness. So next time you watch me jumping into a puddle or being not bothered by what is happening around me, remember this – you are only seeing one part of me, you are yet to see the other one. 🙂