I talk to my mom a lot, and in doing so I often get tipped off to old family stories and to various stories about my childhood from before I was old enough to remember anything. One of my favorites, is about my innocence, I think, more than anything else.
See, when I was younger there is this story that I love to hear about myself, despite how vain it is. I love to hear it because it reminds me each time of the person I’m supposed to be. I had it figured out when I was four years old and have since lost it (repeatedly) along the way.
I can’t remember the exact location, but I was with my mom out in public, and I noticed an old woman, with warts on her nose and a sullen look about her. I reached out, and grabbed her face, and looked into her eyes before saying…
“You are so beautiful”
To that, my mom ends the story there. I don’t’ need any more than that. It makes me think often about how many opportunities we miss out on saying something kind to someone. It also makes me consider the amount of times we as a culture will say kind things only if it means that we are getting something out of it. Guys comment on girls’ beauty in a vain attempt to secure a place on the other side of their bed. We comment on the money people make in the shallow hope that they will lend us some. We do all of these things, I do them too. I won’t make excuses for myself, but I will say this…
There is no purpose behind it.
When we are kids, we have this kind of innocence that grows and sprouts out of us, which is the root cause for the trouble we get in to. We don’t know that the oven will be hot, or that sticking a pair of tweezers into an electrical socket will shock us. We don’t know that we aren’t strong enough to lift a bookshelf, we don’t know the weight of the words we wield. I love this innocence, and I think it is the most powerful characteristic of being young. It breaks my heart that people stomp on that innocence intentionally for the sake of “growing up” or “maturing” so I’ve devised a plan, a plan to bring myself back to that level of innocence.
See, I’m frustrated with myself because I’m 23 now, and I have fallen out of the habit of complimenting others simply for the sake of complimenting them. I have to force myself to do it, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t think about it anymore. It isn’t in the forefront of my mind to just say kind things anymore.
I had regained a sliver of that innocence and planted it, and somewhere along the last four years I let the plants that were growing from it die out. I didn’t water them enough.
So that’s what I’m saying today.
Science has spliced the genes of different plants together to create a whole new kind of plant. If you could, I want you to think about those plants as the stages of our lives. There is one for our toddler years, one for being a child, one for adolescence, one for teens and one for adult hood. AS each new flower blossoms, it gets slightly smaller or larger depending on the ways we lived. Those of us who were faced with hardship and troubles and couldn’t find a way to overcome, or didn’t have anyone to help them overcome, grow with smaller flowers each year. I say this, because there was a time when I was fostering a tiny one. But if we were to see this flower today, it would be large and beautiful and vibrant, because I have surrounded myself with good people, I have been blessed with good family, and I have mulled the dirt of my life around in such a way that it will cultivate my own happiness. I think each of these flowers has something special that comes with it, and in the case of the youngest two, we get the precious innocence that beads up and blossoms alongside it.
Then as we grow, we lose that because of the dead hand of the world around us. I’m here to say that it isn’t gone for good. In fact, in order to use that innocence, that unknowing kindness to the best of its ability, I think in one way or another, you have to be broken somewhere. You have to have a blister on your soul. It’s good to have one, because then you can identify with that pain and you can use it.
See, there was a reason that I told that woman she was beautiful. I don’t know what it is, but I knew she needed to hear it. So I simply said it. I didn’t think about the backlash or the repercussions of my words. I simply grabbed her face and blurted out the kindest thing that my kid brain could think of.
I think that’s the most important thing that we have in our garden, see, as that innocence blooms, I think we stop doing those things because we fear the outcome. We get into our own heads asking “what if..?” scenarios that don’t matter in the long run. We lose the ability to just go for it without a worry.
It makes me sad that we worry so much about the things we say to people.
If the world only said good things, there would be no need to worry, right?
I think it’s important that we take these good things we find in our youth, and study the ways to splice them into our growing life. Perhaps, taking that same nonchalance that our innocence of youth gifted to us, and using it to be kind today, we could move one step closer to a true place of happiness.
Of course… I’m no scientist, I’m just a gardener…
And boy, do I think you’re beautiful.
Sorry, but this is a shameless plug for the compilation books written through this blog every year! They are only $8 and I have Volumes 1 + 2 up for sale on Amazon right now. It would honor me and make me so happy if you could purchase a copy of each. It would make my dreams come true if you read it, especially when you were lonely, unhappy, hurt, or angry, because that’s what I write all of these for. To help, to show love, and hopefully, if I’m really lucky… to inspire. If you’re interested in getting either one of the “Life is not Meant to be Awful” compilations, there is a link right here for you.
Thank you for reading, and always remember…
Life is not meant to be awful.