Words of Wisdom
Blog by Christine Upchurch
[Originally published 4/23/17]
Recently as I was making the bed and adding the final touch of a throw blanket across the corner of my bed, I realized something about myself. I have great attachment to the various throw blankets around my house. The one I keep on my bed, so soft to the touch and the perfect shade of smoky lavender. The one across the arm of my favorite living room chair, pale teal in color and lightweight enough to provide just enough warmth there by the fire. The fuzzy blue one on my couch, quite soft and large enough to keep anyone lying there comfortably warm while watching television or taking a nap. The woven burgundy and cream blanket on my work chair, looking beautiful next to the floral painting above it, providing warmth when I am on business calls or working on my computer.
I began to ponder why I feel such deep appreciation for blankets. Yes, staying warm is a basic human need. Yes, I enjoy decorating so I care about color and texture. But there must be something more to it.
And then I remembered. When I was a little girl I had two small blankets that I took to bed with me every night. Somehow these blankets got nicknamed Christine’s “lovey covers.” They were soft with silky edges, eventually tattered but always loved.
Here was my answer: the appreciation I feel as an adult for throw blankets is rooted in my childhood joy.
I believe that our fond memories of childhood relate to our deep connection with life. It’s about our relationship with family, friends, pets, nature, and our various experiences. As children we are very rooted in our senses, so little things make big impressions: the soft feel of a blanket; the cadence of a nursery rhyme; the smell of our favorite meal cooking; the sound of crickets chirping on a summer evening; the sight of a squirrel climbing a tall tree; the sound of children playing outside; the look, feel, and smell of a brand new book; the warmth of sunshine upon our face; the sensation and trajectory of water splashing; the scent of a new box of crayons; the tickle of ice cream melting onto our hand; the sound of laughter from those we love; the repetitive breathing of our dog cuddling next to us; the sound of rain hitting the roof as we fall asleep.
I suspect that somewhere along the way many of us let go of some of that childlike wonder and appreciation. Our senses become dulled by the responsibility associated with living. We rarely allow ourselves to experience the fullness of the multitude of moments we live each day.
Fortunately, there is an anecdote to this, and it’s simple. We can open our awareness and view our daily experiences with a renewed sense of wonder.
At various moments throughout the day, we can consciously choose to live more fully. It’s a simple prescription, but can take on a variety of forms: Pay close attention to the path of the bird flying past your window. Experience the sensations in your body as you dance to your favorite music. Listen carefully to the clicking sounds as you type on the computer. Delight in the colors and smells of the various ingredients as you prepare dinner. Feel the sensation of the grass between your toes. Listen to the nuances of your cat’s meows. Examine how the ink from the pen flows onto the paper as you write out a grocery list. Listen carefully to the tone of voice when others speak. Become aware of the tingling in your body after taking a few deep breaths. Very simply, pay attention and appreciate what you are experiencing in that moment.
Purposely experiencing childlike wonder, when we are no longer young and naïve, can have a powerfully transformative effect. It is about engaging joyfully in the moment despite our responsibilities, relationship problems, financial stress, or the chaos of some external event. It speaks to life about what we want more of, instead of communicating resistance to what we don’t want. And life is always listening.
In some ways, choosing childlike joy in the moment is a form of protest.
No, it’s not a protest against responsibility or adulthood. Rather, it is about protesting the common notion that life is filled with drudgery. In that moment, it’s making the choice to experience gratitude over anything else.
If you choose to allow yourself more of this type of experience, be warned: it has its consequences.
You may begin to question some of the choices you’ve made in life, and find yourself releasing those things which have been sucking the childlike joy out of you. People in your life may also begin to look at you differently, wondering why you seem somehow lighter. There may be some who miss the old you because they feel more at home around those who also feel burdened by life. Others may be intrigued and wonder what your secret is. Did you get a raise? Are you now in love? Did your child make the dean’s list at college? Whether or not you share your secret, I assure you this: your appreciation for life will be contagious.
What moments of childlike joy might you discover today?
Like you, I am on a journey--a path filled with joy and sorrow, expansion and contraction--with beautiful lessons and fascinating insights each step of the way. Thank you for joining me for a small part of my journey. I look forward to connecting with you on yours.