Today’s challenge: Grow younger!

To a young heart everything is fun.

-Charles Dickens

Working with elementary school age kids in the afternoon, I am always fascinated to discover their imaginative minds.  Whether I am a shark with chomping arms waiting to “eat” kids who fall off the monkey bars before reaching the other side or I am a customer at their new diner serving up vegetation from the schoolyard, I admire how naturally creativity comes to them.  I often found myself wondering if the world from my childhood was ever as whimsical as it is for them.

The answer: yes.  My brother is two years younger than I am, and back when we lived in California, we had played in our backyard everyday.  Sometimes, we were African villagers hunting for game (cars passing our house) with our rifles (branches we found and used as walking sticks on a hike).  Other days, we created homes for our pet rolly-pollys.  Of course, we also played the classic games of school and house with our older sister of six years difference with me.

I’m not sure when this all stopped.  Maybe it was when my sister started attending high school.  Maybe it was when my brother had become friends with boys on our block to go play video games at their houses.  Maybe I got bored.

I suppose that, with age, we are more inclined to see things as they are.  Leaves are leaves, not bread slices for sandwiches.  There are no “bases” in the office.  Play money has even less monetary value than a sheet of blank paper.  In this sense, seeing things as they are makes the world seem really dull and lifeless.  I love working at the school because the kids inspire within me a new enthusiasm for the world -the potential for the world to be just as you wish it was.  So, leaves are indeed bread slices, peers cannot tag you when you’re sitting on the bench, and you are a millionaire that can buy a restaurant.

As Pablo Picasso famously said, youth has no age.  So, go ahead and channel your youth! Go ride on a swing! Go paint! Go personify inanimate objects! Go make up a game!  Maybe delving into your creativity is all too challenging.  Then, for you, I have a fail proof method – go spend time playing with kids.

Youth is, after all, just a moment, but it is the moment, the spark, that you always carry in your heart.

-Raisa Gorbachev

Enter this challenge with all of your skepticism and doubt of the outcomes but also with your willingness to try.  I think you’ll be surprised.  Maybe you will reawaken a surge of new energy.  Maybe the world will once again become a wondrous place full of possibility.  Who knows? Maybe you will reach a moment where you don’t even have to actively seek sources of this energy anymore because you begin to exude it, at which point, you embody Picasso’s wise words.  You remain young at heart, and then everything becomes fun.  That is the ultimate goal of youth that no Botox, creams, or surgeries can give you.

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