Friday, July 15, 2011
What goes on in the mind of a child? Why is a swing so compelling, why does a mud puddle demand to be jumped in? What makes a a child kick a stone as she walks? And why-oh-why is a walky-talky so irresistible?
A walky-talky is the term my friend Chris Neiman coined over 50 years ago (age 4) for those little walls children love to walk on - so daring! - while their parents keep to the safer wide pavements.
There is one on the main road of Vasant Vihar, where I walk almost every day (it's a fallen street light pole which the electricity department hasn't bothered to pick up) and even now - age 53 - I can't stop myself from hopping on it for the seven steps of joy it gives me.
I can't believe I'm alone in this delight. But what is it? The swoop of the swing, the abandon of the mud puddle, the careful precision of the walky-talky steps - so daring, yet so safe - . . .
A red car in the distance to look at while mincing along the little wall. Or a red tail-light on a black car. . . it doesn't matter. The joy is in the steps, in the mincing. Children keep it simple. They remind us of uncomplication. They keep us pure: a swing for the freedom of being lifted in the air, weightless and unencumbered; a mud puddle for the love of mud puddles; a walky-talky to help us to remember to pay attention to our feet as they step proudly along the narrow beam, amazed at their own prowess.
Sometimes I want to start all over, to be a child again. Because that's not possible, I hang on to mud puddles and walky-talkys.