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January 11th, 2020
We’re always amazed how quickly kids learn. As chaotic and unruly as they might appear to us, something in all that cloud of activity is figuring things out at a speed that adults can only admire with in frustration.
And then puberty hits and we gain such a claustrophobic degree of self consciousness that we spend much of our adult life trying to get rid of it, or somehow get around it.
Aphorisms like be yourself and don’t care what others think don’t really apply to children in the way that adults covet such ideas. Children are generally so immersed in their experience of reality that the who concept of a ‘self’ is far less important than it proves to be for adults.
And it’s likely because of this small identity that children are so fluid with their failure and as a result, they learn very quick.
Our ideas surrounding failure are fundamentally tied to our sense of identity. Failure is somehow a commentary on who we are. We somehow take it personally and our own value is called into question in our own eyes. The recursiveness here is only detrimental. Children, on the other hand generally don’t have this sort of recursive issue.
Failure is but a passing road sign on the way to doing something new.
We as adults, however, are not wholly exiled to this torturous realm of self-conscious paralysis. It’s possible to down-regulate your identity and the importance of your sense of self until your relationship with failure becomes both enjoyable and challenging in the same way that playing tennis or chess with a friend can be.
The process is simple, but requires consistent effort. Dusting off that forgotten gift of childhood depends solely on the ability to simply pay attention to the moment.
It’s a simple as that. If you are paying close attention to the moment, then you’re simply not in your own head anymore. But doing this reliably and consistently requires a dedicated effort. One that can be achieved through meditation.
But a whole practice of meditation with some sort of teacher and exercises isn’t necessarily needed. You can prove this point about the moment to yourself easily.
As you go about your day today, try to remember this idea, and when you do, simply stop, pause, and look around at the life in which you are immersed. Try to soak up every detail, as though you’re in some fantastically realistic videogame. Allow yourself to marvel at the fact that you even exist – no matter what you life entails, how much difficulty or sadness, the chance to pay attention this closely is always on offer. Let the details of reality sink in and you just might find some relief, perhaps even a joy that feels distantly familiar.
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