AND Follow the Leader

August 2nd, 2015

I was walking the beach the other day, fascinated by very little children playing by the water. I watched one little girl. She was somewhere between one and two years old, dressed in a ruffled bathing suit and sunhat. An adult man accompanied her at a pace that clearly indicated that he would let her choose what they did and when.

When she plopped herself down several feet from the water, apparently fascinated by something she found in the sand, he stopped also. No hemming and hawing. No impatiently tapping his foot. He seemed perfectly content to watch her fascination with whatever was right in front of her.

That little girl is the reminder for me of the beginner in all of us. Her choice to stop, when fascinated, to play with what she found, is a great reminder of the pace of nature and what it means to be present. Kids are closer to the ground and therefore, perceive their world from a different vantage point than adults, who are typically anywhere from three to four or more feet taller, with eyes directed more towards the horizon than the earth.

We often occupy our minds with whatever worry or thought happens to enter, unlike the child who is more likely focused on whatever is happening right now, right here. What wonderful teachers these children are. They serve to remind us of the wisdom of the child—to approach the world with fascination, wonder, and beginner’s mind that loves to explore. Such an orientation makes it easy for one to be free to be and see what shows up, one step at a time.

When these same adults and children are not on vacation, the leader is more often the adult, driving a pace to get things done. The child does not get to dawdle and simply explore, when the adult is rushed and trying to accomplish whatever is on a list. The fascination and wonder are replaced with autopilot doings, and not a lot of being.

I wonder what lessons we can take from the natural behavior of the child. Might it be to slow down, be aware of what is happening right in front of us, and allow ourselves to be fascinated by whatever we discover? Following the child leader just might lead us to rediscover the child inside all of us, and just maybe to listen to her or his wisdom.

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