I sometimes wish I could see the world through the eyes mind of my 10 month old son… What is it he sees in everything? What holds his attention so long on a blank white wall? What does he find so amusing in empty space? What hidden taste known to him alone makes plain, unsalted rice cakes such a treat, no matter how often he eats them? What secrets does he entrust to the stuffed bees on his mobile as he coos away at them before falling asleep? What does he find so fascinating in the zipper on my burnt orange sweater?
Charbel tries to share these answers with Eddy and I, talking and babbling to us constantly as he makes his way through the day with all its little joys and challenges. While I can’t interpret every sound, I can tell from his giggles and growls, laughs and tears, that my baby boy lives in a delightful world, occasionally tarnished by the harsh realities in life, like needing to learn that mommy and daddy can’t hold him all the time, and that the word “no” means he has to stop grabbing the electrical socket, no matter how appealing it seems.
I believe that babies live in delightful anticipation and joy because they live in a state of discovery. Even though they are the ones entering a world that has existed long before them, in their minds, reality is little by little entering their own little world, as their perception sharpens and they begin to learn, recognize and remember. They discover shapes and sounds, objects and emotions. They find beauty and truth in their little discoveries. They recognize the delights God has hidden in the universe to enchant us. And because of that, they can’t suppress their little giggles and smiles, their wide-eyed gazes, and their coos of anticipation and appreciation. What a lovely world.
And then… at varying ages for each one of us, the same things become expected, unexciting, monotonous. A wall is just another wall. A stuffed bee is just a bunch of colored cotton, and a rice cake is absolutely bland. That’s reality. Or, is it? After all, the world doesn’t change. The world we live in is the same as the one our babies live in. We are the ones who change. Our own senses get accustomed to reality, thus causing things once exciting to seem dull. Why? Because we exit the state of discovery. We believe we know reality as it is; we know what to expect. But, because we know so much, or think we know so much, we miss a lot. I think we would all live in a happier world if we perpetuate, or return to that state of discovery. Perhaps we don’t need to rediscover what a white wall looks like, or figure out for a second time that two walls meet at the corner, but instead of losing that sense of discovery and anticipation, we can take it to a deeper dimension, into the inner recesses of our being. We can rediscover the joy, beauty and delight of our own existence and of the world we live in. Many things that happen over and over again are really new each time, if we have the eyes to see it. The sun rises every morning, but each sunrise has its own character. The motion is old and repetitive; the beauty is always new. Every “I love you” said by a loved one is a new moment of love, and can’t be compared to the time before. Every morning may seem the same, but it’s a new day, with different secrets waiting to be found. Every step is a repetitive motion but brings us to new places.
I thank God every day for the gift of my little one, who has taught me so much during these last months with his joy, trust and simplicity. I thank him for showing me again, through Charbel, how to appreciate life for what it is and how to take pleasure in the simplest of things. I pray that we can all learn how to live from the little children in the world, rediscovering from them the beautiful truths that we once knew, but have long since forgotten.
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”