Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child

When I was in high school English class, I learned that as a literary device children are truth-tellers (drunks, too, but that will have to be for another time…).  That meant whenever a child spoke, you could count on whatever came out as being the real story.

Here at the beach on vacation with my family, our big activity is reading, and I just finished Emma Donoghue’s best-selling novel, Room.  It is a most remarkable story of an absolutely horrific situation told entirely through the eyes of a five year old boy.

Beyond the obvious social and psychological implications of this book, there is the boy himself, Jack, an innocent who is really anything but.

What is it that makes Jack so compelling, and so relevant?  It is a short list of characteristics that we pursue all the time: clarity, curiosity, and being totally present.

Jack was all about the integration of these three simple characteristics:  

  • He was always tuned in to what was happening in the current moment and asking if it made sense (being present).  Trying to discover the meaning.  
  • If the meaning was not immediately apparent, he looked elsewhere for it (curiosity).  
  • And then, if he was frustrated in his search, he figured out how to carry on anyway (clarity).

How many misunderstandings have you been part of where the central issue had to do with “lack of clarity”?  And how often do these situations result from paying attention to something other than that which you needed to pay attention to?

Our lives are so complex with so many important things demanding our focus that it becomes easy to lose sight of what is right in front of us.  Somehow, because it is right-here-right-now, it becomes easy to overlook.

The next time you find yourself struggling with an apparent lack of clarity, frustrated because the situation is turning out to be something other than what you intended, look closely at your circumstances and ask whether you are really paying attention to what is most present, most meaningful for you right now.