The Place of Innocence in a Grown-Up World.
“Sometimes I return back to the state of mind I had as a child when I believed nothing was impossible.” ― Jonathan Harnisch
For many years I wrestled with life, at least the life someone within me thought I should be living.
I have little memories of my childhood and what I remember was enmeshed in grown-up matters early enough to skip that happy thoughtlessness accompanying exploration and maturing into adulthood. Yet, glimpses of memorable instances flash into my heart and speak for what was true for me then, and I reckon still is…
Introvert and strong-minded is a dangerous cocktail. I had a very rich inner world and a deep love for learning, I was not one to give up my ideas without a fight. Of course, I was mostly by myself, unmercifully bullied and forced to “deal-with-it-and get-on-moving” by well-intention parents. Other kids saw me as a freak, and no adult would have believed I was being loyal to my soul?
Had I in their place?
I cannot say…
I ended up owning a “she’s nuts” identity that gave me a weird pleasure. it made me special in my own eyes and somehow justified my inadequacy and the presence of a “force” that resisted surrendering.
But where are you going with this commonplace growing-up story?
Sadly, bullying, name-calling and the likes are still awfully common in our modern era. What I fail to see today, is what “saved” me then from capitulating and yielding my soul to peer pressure and oblivious adults.
This quality goes beyond a rarefied type of ignorance into some mysterious operation of the imagination that regards miracles not only as possible but as to be expected. In those tender years, the quality of innocence appeared to have served as a fierce Knight for the Soul, alighting an unfathomable feeling of “certainty” that would remain unyielding no matter the challenge it faced.
Innocence bestowed a small creature with a quiet “inner knowledge” that enabled her to embrace deep abstractions that a child couldn’t possibly describe, never mind fully apprehend — Light, Truth, Purpose, Beauty, Freedom, Eternity-. The imprint left by this experience remains alive until this day.
Lightheartedness and imagination. Where did all go?
Innocence is a state of mind, an openness to experience, another word for receptivity. These traits have a hard time surviving in a world ruled by “quantities” and terrified of the unknown (meaning, anything different from our perspective of life and/or that we don’t understand).
Society’s story nowadays is a story of a loss of innocence… today we are suspicious about everything that connects us with the mysterious, intuitive, universal or mystical, we laugh at what envisions new solutions, dreams a future or describes the beautiful and meaningful in “non-utilitarian” ways.
A couple of years ago, I signed for a course in ancient philosophy designed to explore how humanity viewed themselves and their place in the universe. Some of the things that stood out for me were:
- Respect and openness through which these great men and women approached the mysteries of life and the soul.
- The high level of discourse and debate.
- And above all, the sense of wonder.
Where there’s wonder, there’s space for Pi, for eternity and the things we can’t explain.
Cynicism and skepticism, are they taking the place of imagination?
Answers don’t need to be reduced to equations or dogma; there’s space for both, the invisible and inexplicable and the visible and practical. They can coexist elegantly.
The quest for knowledge can be an expansive path to a wide spectrum of intelligences and the wisdom that binds them together. It might be true that reducing everything to what can be explained makes it more “manageable” for a society obsessed with the appearance of control. However, it robs us from the adventure of experiencing life’ mysteries and the abundance surrounding us.
I am convinced that innocence is a quality to be preserved and encouraged. Innocence teaches how to develop and use flexibility and imagination to overcome obstacles and drawbacks in our daily life- it is a pillar for creative thinking. The Innocent Archetype embraces possibility, embodies trust and optimism and contributes to our ability to sense playfulness and balance adult responsibilities with the healthy inter-dependency of communal life. Innocence is a positively infectious energy that brings out the best in us and others.
Nowadays we cultivate Fear and it’s destroying us
There’s no creative power in fear, no transformation. Fear is an unending Season of imagined catastrophes making sure we stay paralyzed.
The laws ruling the Universe seems to favor beauty and “emergence,” their fashion leaning almost towards unfathomable magic as a means to “perpetual newness.” Such elegance even in chaos!
I can’t say if something “searches” for answers in the Universe or if it follows a plan. What I do know, is that the Universe Knows and surrenders to the wisdom within.
What a definition of Faith!
Why do we cringe from those very forces we see at play in the living vastness of infinite galaxies and existence?
Caught in the trap of “Thinking” one’s way out
I acknowledge it is easy for me to get trapped in the powerful labyrinth of the mind, trying to figure out my way through life instead of living it! I forget the mind looks at the world selectively through a set of filters and narrow mindsets created by my experiences. Being mature and acting “adult” tends to translate into dismissing the power of innocence to sharpen my ability to define new meaning. There goes intuition too because it feels so close to innocence, so “childish.” I learned to fear both in the name of growing up…
Expertise and experience begin with inexperience and lack of information.
The mind is quick to forget “beginnings” and relentless about reminding us of a long-gone past with its constraints and problems (some of which never existed but inside its boundaries). It is quick to forgo what it cannot rationalize or control, imposing what it deems “reality” at whatever cost.
I used to think I was being punished for believing in “powers” I could not dissect scientifically. For a long time, I saw the energy of innocence as disruptive and doubted my soul ‘s voice. Trusting and allowing the flow of life is new to the adult in me, and a bit scary for the inner kid.
Slowly but steadily, I am learning to let go and allowing…
…whatever is that needs to be, BE.
I do my best to embrace it with curiosity and contentment. And if it happens to be harsh, with patient and faith that when the time is right, it will unveil its secrets and I shall be able to be grateful for the opportunity it offered and/or the lessons gained.
I don’t need to bury innocence but learn to balance a healthy dependency with responsibility. Innocence encourages simple solutions and inner calm, it dwells in goodness and worthiness.
Embracing the quality of innocence has brought a renewal of the light and aliveness I once knew. Soon, it will become me again, as I am committed to trusting that Life knows something I don’t.