On a recent Sunday morning, my 6 year old son and I went for a walk in the woods. We’re lucky enough to live just next to a nature reserve on the Jura Mountains so we only have to go through the gate at the bottom of our garden to be out in the forest.
We walked and talked for about 40 minutes letting the topics and conversation just flow and ebb, twist and turn, occasionally stopping to check out an ant hill, or a worm or some other bit that caught one of our eyes.
I’ve come to deeply envy my kids and their ability to not only think, but live and learn “outside the box”. I marvel at how free and unconstrained their minds are. They haven’t learned any real boundaries to their logic.
Reality for them is pretty much restricted to things that touch their senses in that moment. Reality for us adults, is a thing learned through experience (oh, that didn’t work) or instruction (you can’t do that). Until that happens, kids are free to connect any dots in any way they like.
It would seem that we’re all born that way and somehow, along the way we lose or surrender that capacity. I also realized that most of my personal heroes were people who retained that link to a beautiful, child-like way of thinking and making connections (my Dad, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Coltrane).
So what happens?
We all tacitly understand the expected transition to adulthood and responsibility: go to school, behave, join society, fit it, work, etc.
That’s all fine, and I have no issue with being part of society and fitting in, but let’s also try to retain a bit of randomness, abandon, mayhem and absurdity. Let’s think, and be outside these boxes whenever we have the chance.
UPDATE: I wrote this a while before I heard of Steve Job’s passing but I can’t think of a better example of both retaining that beautiful ability to connects dots, and push the envelope.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
– The Whole Earth Catalog, 1974