Sandra Cohen, B.A., R.N. and Roger Cormier, M.A., M.Th.

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A local personalized license plate urges us to never grow up. Assuming the owner is encouraging us to live with spontaneity, wide-eyed wonder, adventure and some silliness, then YES!

Author Rachel Carson said, “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” She describes the child’s world well, but cuts it off prematurely.

It is true that as we move into adulthood, we face challenges, assume responsibilities, suffer disappointment and failure, and often become busy through all our waking hours. Some claim that adults who retain some childlike behaviors should grow up, yet they often marvel at, envy and enjoy people who live in the moment with playful abandon.

Like so many of life’s paradoxes, we can convert this seeming either/or into a both/and in ways that enrich our lives at any chronological age or state of development. In Pablo Picasso’s words, “Youth has no age.”

It is often thought that today’s children have to “grow up” too soon because they are placed in too many structured activities and exposed to too much of adult life. On the other hand, people from adolescence through advanced ages don’t feel they can give themselves permission, in playwright Tom Stoppard’s words, to “carry your childhood with you.”

Childlike Spirit

We may be very busy, responsible and constructively engaged in career, family and community, but we don’t have to let worries and fears keep us from giving free play to and enjoying activities associated with the positive side of childhood. Consider some of the ways we can be childlike today even as we were in our childhoods. Lori Deschene offers suggestions in

“LEARN – Fill out your own permission slip to go to the aquarium, a museum, or a nearby tourist attraction. If something looks interesting, take a break and go!

PLAY – Be silly. Look for funny things in your day and let yourself laugh about them.

CONNECT – Make a spontaneous play date. Invite people over right now, for no reason but to have fun.

“CREATE – Assume you’d be really good at something – piano, rock climbing, organizing a club – and then find out, instead of assuming the opposite.

BE – Relax and do nothing. Don’t try to fill that empty pocket of time. You’ve been productive enough. Kick back, cut loose, and let yourself waste a little time.

IMAGINE – Visualize a tomorrow with endless possibilities.”

“It is never too late to have a happy childhood,” said novelist Tom Robbins. What childlike quality in you is ready and eager for expression today?