Guest post by Rochel Spangenthal
People-watching is one of my favorite activities.
I find people to be beautiful. Interesting. Simple in their complexity.
So, here I sit.
I sit in the park and I watch them watching the clouds in the sky. Her thumb in her mouth. His eyes round with wonder. No, not wonder… Awe.
She suddenly sits up. “Hey, do you know why the sky’s blue?”
“My dad say’s it’s ‘cause G-d spilled food coloring everywhere. That’s also why trees are green.” He answers with authority.
“Nah, that can’t be it.” Her thumb returns to its shelter as she trots off to ask her mother the same question.
And it strikes me – I haven’t thought about that question in years.
When did I stop asking?
When did I stop wondering why the sky is blue?
I’m pretty sure that I never found out the answer. But the question faded away along with that look of awe.
I guess I just… got used to it after a while. The sky, I mean. It’s always there. The sky that I looked at in fascination and amazement as a child turned from a phenomenon into an everyday occurrence. Something average. Something plebeian.
My sensitivity to the color blue died.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m one of the most excitable ‘grown ups’ that I know. I’m one of those people that you hate to go walking with because I will stop without warning to stare at a bug on the ground or an interestingly shaped crack in the sidewalk. I will always go out of my way to close my umbrella so that I can get soaked in the rain. I will be mesmerized by the sound of wind rustling the leaves in the tree.
But I got used to the sky.
I grew up a little.
There is a child within each one of us that lives in every moment. The here. The now. The present. That child sees the excitement in baking cookies. In a puddle of water. In a story that he has heard tens of times.
Your inner child feels ecstatic when you go running because your legs work properly. Your inner child feels like the world is ending when your pride is hurt.
Your inner child feels such joy. Your inner child feels such pain.
Your inner child looks at the sky and sees a million opportunities to learn and imagine.
And day by day, our bodies grow older. People attempt to stave off the physical signs of aging with wrinkle creams, botox, and a healthy diet.
But though our bodies inevitably grow old, we have the ability to keep our minds eternally young. We can fight the inner signs of aging.
How, you may ask? By connecting to our inner child. Remembering that it is there. That it is crying to be heard.
Jews do this amazingly awkward and beautiful thing. They say a prayer after they use the restroom. Every. Time. They thank G-d for the fact that their digestive system works properly. There is a sense of amazement. A sense of awe about these bodies that they inhabit.
The Bathroom Prayer gives a voice to the child within.
The child within knows that you may have used the bathroom thousands of times before, but that is no reason to be unappreciative. That is no reason to stop being astounded.
Your inner child knows not to take a frequent miracle for granted.
Playing with children every once in a while is good for your soul. Children allow us to appreciate that which we have grown used to. They notice the wonderful everyday occurrences that sometimes fade into the background. They remind us to get excited about passing a cow on the side of the road. They enable us to once again feel our pulse race when our foot approaches a huge crunchy autumn leaf. They give us permission to giggle at hiccups and burps.
They highlight all of the blessings that we are surrounded with.
The little girl’s question reminded me that I am in the park. Right here. Right now. And at this moment, life is amazing. I have air in my lungs and shoes on my feet. And the sky is blue.
The sky is so fantastically blue.