For my granddaughter Eliza (now five months old), every day brings new discoveries. The sounds, the sights, and oh my, yes, the tastes of everything fill her mind (and mouth) with wonder. As she reaches out to grab hold of whatever is within arm’s reach, her eyes twinkle, her giggles explode with joy, and her dimples form pockets just right to capture a grandmother’s kisses. She’s curious. She’s determined. She’s eager to discover all that is within her grasp. Sometimes her gaze is one of excitement, while at other times she studies her surroundings intently, taking it all in. Discoveries come through deliberate effort and also at times by surprise. Her imagination seems to be exploding with desire to experience all that is coming into her little world. And she finds pleasure in sharing life and love with those around her. What fun—for her and for me! There is such freedom in sharing playtime with a little one, isn’t there? It’s unpretentious. It’s honest. It’s simple. It’s creative. It’s freeing. It’s filled with laughter. And its agenda is clear: enjoy life and share it with those you love. How sad that so often, as we grow older, we feel the need to set aside that childlike spirit of adventure and simplicity, unless we’re spending time with a child. We quickly trade in our creativity and curiosity for the convenience of ready-made, do-it-for-you gadgets. Somewhere along the line, life becomes serious as we take on roles and responsibilities. Freedom gives way to restraint and inquisitiveness shifts to concern. No doubt, responsibility is an important part of maturity. Yet, if we’re not mindful, it seems to prompt us to set aside playfulness so we can “get down to business” with life. We don’t have time to explore possibilities and our fear of failure may keep us from taking risks. It becomes important to set plans, follow the plans, and fit in with whatever the group is doing. Or perhaps, to make it to the top of whatever ladder we strive to climb. Our carefree childlike nature that prompts us to enjoy the moment fades as we worry about what our future will hold. We seem to be in such a hurry to get ahead, to accomplish our to-do list, and to be sure we are meeting our expectations, or perhaps the expectations of others. It’s even difficult for some of us to take “time off” from the demands of life to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Time to explore possibilities without the pressure of making decisions or taking action. Time to dream, imagine, and let our creative juices flow. Time to experiment with new ideas without the fear of failure or the pressure to succeed. Time to enjoy the simple gifts life has for us. Time to laugh and play with those we love. Now, I realize we don’t fit into all those categories all the time. However, if we’re honest, we may find ourselves struggling in those areas more than we realize. This afternoon as I watched Eliza’s excitement at the sights and sounds she explored, I began thinking about how it would be if we—adults—would allow ourselves opportunities to set the demands and expectations of life aside at times and adopt that same sense of carefree playfulness and joy with the gifts we’ve been given. If you could capture a bit of my little one’s curiosity and wonder about life, what would you explore? What would you dream? What would you reach for? What would you cling to? What pleasures of life would tickle your taste buds and what would, perhaps, even make you giggle? Life is indeed serious at times and we must do as Eliza sometimes does: focus intently with a determined spirit to reach our goal. Let’s also take a lesson from her and reach out with wonder and excitement toward new opportunities. To eagerly explore new possibilities. And as we set out to experience life to its fullest, may we, too, find joy in that journey of discovery. Joy that brings a twinkle to our eyes, a smile to our face, laughter from our lips, and love to share with those around us. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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