We knew how to do it when we were kids. Didn’t we? It came naturally, effortlessly. Without even trying, we could jettison expectation, enjoy the moment, live harmoniously and soak up every drop of bliss we could find. In short, we were – ALL OF US – capable of just being.
As adults, we pray. We meditate. We sacrifice. We journey. We repent. We read. We have energy work done. We appeal to our guides. We do this. We do that. We do, do, do. We try anything we can think of to hitch a ride to blissful nirvana. We pass milestones and we achieve certain measures of success, of course. But we still find ourselves stuck viewing the world through the “do lens.” Call it an age-related malady, this do-itis. It is a pervasive ill, tough to treat and often contagious. If left unchecked it can lead to a serious be deficiency. So we panic. We push on. We seek the wisdom of the world’s great mystics, sages and philosophers. We keep doing. We run down the path and stomp the very flowers we were seeking. We miss that the answer to our biggest question may already be right under our noses.
Want to be bombarded with Breadcrumbs? Watch the children in your life. Sit quietly sometime and just watch from a safe distance. Drop your own expectations, open your heart and mind, and just soak up the moment. What do you notice? Soft facial expressions. Bright eyes filled with wonder. Relaxed mouths and jaws. Easy movements. Happy voices and effortless laughter. You probably noticed a little of all of the above, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t also feel their joy on an intuitive level. How could you not? Children in their element are wide open, expressing themselves on many levels, not merely communicating in the narrow band of perception framed by our five physical senses.
All of the characteristics you observed are those of a species that lives in a world where do is of little or no concern. In the child’s universe, the past is yesterday and the future is tomorrow…period. All that matters to them is right here, right now. Being! It’s absolutely lovely, and it’s exactly what so many of us are working so hard to achieve.
So how can we, as adults, reclaim a little of that joy-in-the-moment magic for ourselves? Maybe, part of the answer lies in simply allowing ourselves to be children again, and it may be as easy as reuniting with some of our favorite toys. As the father of two incredible sons, I have observed over the last 12 years that there are four basic families of toys: 1) The Time-Killers (video games), 2) Teaching Toys (building blocks, board games, dolls, art supplies and action figures), 3) Toys of Empowerment (costumes, bicycles, musical instruments, water balloons) and, finally, 4) Toys of Being – those toys that exist for no other reason than to simply inspire joy in the moment and encourage a state of just being.
Over the coming months, I’ll be focusing on this last group of toys, these “toys of being,” to create a series of articles that explores the incredible spiritual value still possessed by such uncomplicated toys as the yo-yo, the sandbox and the Etch A Sketch. I think you’ll be surprised, as I have been while conducting research for this series of articles, at just how many classic toys there are that encourage among children the very same sort of meditative and fruitful state-of-mind that so many of us “doers” spend countless hours and dollars attempting to capture for ourselves. Taking my research a step further, I’ve also been amazed by how many of these toys actually mimic the actions of some of the world’s most common (albeit sometimes hard to find and often expensive) tools of meditation and ritual.
Hopefully, the articles in the series “Playing in the Moment: Toys and the Art of Just Being” will entertain you, reacquaint you with some fond childhood memories, provoke a little thought and, most importantly, inspire you to raid your kids’ toy boxes and leave do behind for a few glorious moments each day. On this last count, I would love to hear from you as the series progresses. Send me letters, photos, videos – anything that captures the joy you experience in the process of “playing in the moment.” Send them to me here, and I’ll choose some of the best ones to share with Search for Breadcrumbs readers over the next few weeks. I don't yet have nifty t-shirts or stickers to send you in return, so a few ounces of good karma will have to do for now.
Ready? Let’s play!
You can read more of Bryan's posts at www.blog.searchforbreadcrumbs.com