Explorer of the World

I remember walking to school as a first grader, by myself.  I lived just down the street from my school, and it was a very safe neighborhood, but regardless, my mother probably wouldn't feel as safe letting me do that today.  But then?  I would count the cracks on the sidewalk as I headed to school.  On rainy days I would look at the worms drowned in the puddles and smell there sickly sweet smell of death, and feel sad for them.  I would skip.  I would run past one house and then walk past the next.  On colder days I would put my head under the collar of my jacket and look through the button holes like I was a headless man.  "Nothing to look at folks, just a headless man walking down the street."  And I would talk to trees.  Have little conversations with them.  Pause and say hello, ask the tree how it's day was.  I would shake it's limb in greeting.  Sometimes my conversations went overlong and my mom would walk down the street to find me, and there I'd be.  Hanging out with a tree.  We all do things like this, as kids.  As a kid, I had "wonder".  I was excited by and curious about things around me.   I explored my world thoroughly.  What happened?

Today, I am an explorer of people.  Of media.  Of MS Outlook.  I look in faces and try to find out what people are thinking, but not saying.  I watch movies and diagnose the structure, and try to apply the things that worked to my own writings.  I double check emails to make sure the spelling and punctuation are correct and that they can be easily comprehended by one who should read it.

But I don't taste a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like I used to, or try to count the stars at night.  Who does?  As people, we explore these kinds of things for awhile and then forget about them, take them for granted.  We've discovered enough about these things to know which ones will and will not hurt you, and if they will how to avoid that hurt.  Then we get on to the big business of the world like achieving those tasks that other people give you, or that you give yourself, and almost always involve paper work.  Yes, we need to support ourselves.  We don't have the luxuries we had as kids.  But I don't do that kind of exploring on my off time either.  If not then, when?

I want to explore more.  One of the things I want to do is go to the Museum of Natural History on campus.  That's my next task.  And the Blanton Museum.  But more than that, I want to pick up shiny rocks.  Collect leaves and paste them in a book.  Look at a lady bug on the tip of my finger.  That's the stuff that makes life fun, and gives all the drudgery of the day meaning. 

Parents get a second childhood in a way, as they get to see this world through their son's or daughter's eyes.  They answer their multitudes of questions and ponder alongside them.  They can't help it.  It must be one of the reasons people say "If you want to learn about something, teach it." 

Well, I don't have a child, but I can become a kid again, in a way, by inviting myself to look at the world a little differently than I usually do.  See how many orange colored shirts I can see at work.  Look at who has curly hair and who has straight.  It's not too late to capture that childhood wisdom, as long as you can stop long enough to remember its worth
Joe Hartman