By Terence Stone
The other day as I was walking to catch my train home from class, I noticed a small child – maybe 2 or 3 years old – sitting up against a black iron fence wriggling around, and laughing. His mother was sitting nearby talking to him playfully.
As my eyes passed over this jovial toddler, I became acutely aware of the negative emotional space, which I was occupying. It had been a long and rather stressful day. Yet, when I saw that joyous little creature, my eyes welled and I couldn’t help but smile.
How strangely we live our lives. When we are infantile, and developing, everything is new to us – every moment, every face, every breath. It is a time when simply being alive is enough; a time when there is nothing so exhilarating as the joy of being.
Yet, when we grow and begin to formulate a sense of self, at some point simply being is no longer an option. In fact the idea seems foreign and strange to us. How odd, when it is truly our most natural state.
It’s inevitable that as we grow with age and experience, pain will find its way to us. When we are pre-self-conscious as children, we know nothing of the inescapable suffering of this world and this life. Or so it seems.
If you’ve ever witnessed a child fall down, or just start crying for seemingly no reason, you’ve probably also witnessed the outcome. As soon as the moment of pain passes, or they get what they want, that pain becomes null and void. Children do not let those experiences define them. (Please note that this does not necessarily apply to a child who has suffered any type of abuse from his/her guardians as that reaches far deeper into the early psyche.)
Now you may be thinking, What’s your point? There is no way to stay in that blissful state of childhood. Believe me, I’ve tried. Well never fear, that is not where I’m taking you. I’m merely pointing out that there is something to be gained by observing this inherent bliss in little ones. It is a psycho-emotional-spiritual state that we were all privy to at one point in our lives.
The weight of our life situations may have buried that Inner-Eden, but it has not crushed it. That joy of being is our most natural state, and we have access to it now. But we must make the choice to enter. No, it’s not as simple as saying I choose the here and now (though it can be eventually), but rather it involves choosing to cultivate that joy of being.
Making that choice and sticking to it is no easy task. Unfortunately, this is one area where our animalistic instincts do us a disservice. We evolved to avoid pain at all costs. The problem is that we have this big, beautiful brain that frequently causes us emotional pain. Yet, to the base mind, pain is pain, and it must be avoided. That is why we must make the choice to cultivate the joy of being, or more simply, presence – because it forces us to come face to face with our own suffering.
Remember, when we are children simply being alive is good enough. I urge you to really think on that. The key to opening the door to presence is asking the question, Why isn’t just being alive good enough NOW?
Wishing you the intense warmth and presence of your child within.
Photo by Abigail Batchelder
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained (and training) actor and singer living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.