As I write I am watching a delightful little boy wander around. I am cozied up in one of my favorite writing spots in Bellingham – the Market on Cornwall. Today, the owners of the best hole in the wall sushi place brought their four-year-old son to work.
Currently, this little boy is sitting a few yards away from me. He is chatting up a storm with a 60-year-old woman. They just met. If you’re wondering how their conversation began, it’s simple. The little boy simply walked up, introduced himself, and pulled out the chair across from her. The woman, once completely absorbed in connecting her phone to wifi, is now beaming and fully entranced in the story the little boy is sharing.
During my time at the market today the little boy interacted with at least ten other people - including myself.
The young boy wandered freely, without fear of the unknown or rejection. He was open, and curious about the world around him. Before sitting down to write today I knew exactly what I wanted to share with you, but this little boy suddenly turned that on its’ head and became my focus. The excitement he employed, his fearless spirit, and his longing to wander and connect with different people was captivating.
After various different interactions the little boy’s mother emerged from the sushi shop and scooped him up. He responded with despair. His mother took him away from his wandering - a travesty, and I say this with sincerity.
His mother was sweet and well-meaning. They walked around the market together talking about the art of faraway places and people. But art is not the real thing. Although the mother was considering the peace of the market’s patrons, she didn’t realize she was taking something incredibly important away from her little boy. His ability to wander and wonder freely.
We are all born with a ferocious curiosity. We grow and learn by exploring, wandering outside the familiar. But eventually we stop wandering. We learn that is wrong to talk to strangers, and unsafe to explore the space outside our homes.
What if we were taught something else? Taught to adventure, to ask strangers questions and truly gain knowledge, to learn how to build common sense based on our experiences rather than hypothetical scenarios. What if we learned how to create true connections with people who are different from us? What if we stopped fearing the unknown? I believe we’d feel empowered to wander, to understand how to better foster peace, and inspire more people to smile genuinely with us.
Today I smiled deeply from deep within my soul as I witnessed this sweet little boy wander. I have a feeling he will empower many people in a way I have yet to even grasp. I hope that by simply sharing my experience with him I can inspire you to challenge the lessons you learned long ago, to break the rules, to talk to strangers, and to wander to unfamiliar places.
You may be able to reconnect with your wandering child easily and feel inspired to dive in; to hop on a plane; throw your phone to the waves and immerse yourself deeply in your journey. Alternatively, you may feel fearful, perhaps you’ll start with hiking a new trail, taking a different route on your afternoon walk, talking to someone in a coffee shop you wouldn’t ordinarily reach out to. Wherever you start, in moments of doubt imagine the wandering little boy and let his joy guide you!
Here’s to the wandering spirits of our world, may we meet them, may we be them, and may we raise them!