The Wild Garden of our Childhood

Take a moment before reading on and draw a picture of a person you love as best you can in 60 seconds. Then continue reading this blog.

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”

– Pablo Neruda

We get comfortable in our mediocrity when we grow old. We lose that wide-eyed wonder that molded us. We internalize life. We grow older and learn how to be afraid. We replace our wonder and curiosity with a need to imitate and emulate. A child, on the other hand, lives in life. Children are an open nerve, feeling life. The way they perceive the world is powerful and deep. But they’re rarely taught how rewarding it would be to keep that sense of wonder because adults encourage them to leave it behind as they did. Our want for clear, tangible results took precedence over the more critical process required to get better results, and we became content with choosing from the diversity of ideas from those around us. We lost our patience for discovery. We neglected the child within that is patiently waiting for us to empower let it guide us. There is power in that simplicity. We mistake childish perception as naïve or simplistic. On the contrary, there is a deep purity to childish perception. We must begin to identify that perception as qualified creative courage.

Have you ever looked at how a child draws a person? Many drawings I’ve seen were rudimentary, consisting of a circle with two dots for eyes, a big smile for a mouth, and arms and legs coming off the circle. They look a bit like this:

Many might find this drawing charming or cute, but I’m more curious of our opinion of the process. Consider how we tend to judge artwork and apply that consideration to this drawing. We may believe that this drawing is not a good representation of what a person looks like, and we might conclude that its lack of sophistication is due to the fact that a child drew it. But if you consider that the child’s intent was not to impress your notions of what a person should look like, you may begin to see this drawing differently.

Take a moment to consider what a child sees when interacting with people. They look into eyes, which are on the face. They speak from a mouth and hear from ears that are also on the face. Everything they know and see of people is on the face. Arms are there to bring food to the face and legs are there to get the face from place to place. Satisfying the needs of others does not motivate them. They are depicting their perception of what is important in the illustration of a person. The torso does not define a person; what does are the moments of engagement and tools used in those engagements. This is what is missing from our perception, as we grow older. We begin to have a need to impress others with the result of our search to communicate ideas in an accepted format, but that limits us. We edit ourselves out of reaching our creative need to find the wonderful. The richness of things we feel we can’t express in an exceptional way. How many of us have had something wonderful to share and not had the words to express them. Is it a lack of words or a preserved notion that others may not understand our idea?

Now compare your drawing with this one. Did you express your love for the person you drew freely? Or were you focusing on creating a factual illustration of that person? There is no right or wrong way to illustrate. My goal is to make you see your creative process in action. If you see ways to expand your perception from this illustration and feel you may have stifled yourself, give it another shot. Open yourself up fully in the illustration and express what you feel. Nobody will see the drawing but you. Try your best to deprogram your fears for a moment.

We need to strive to see the world through younger eyes. We need to live with the fearless sense of expression of a child. Stripping away the binding fear of judgment will clear the path to innovative ways of seeing our creative potential.

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