Lessons from a wise little guy

This past Christmas, I’ve had the good fortune to receive a lesson from one of my greatest teachers.

How did that happen?  Simply through observing the way my favorite 9-year-old was interacting with the gift my gentleman friend and I had given him.  I know I have a lot to learn from children, and that was once again made clear in a beautiful way.

We’ve given him a kit to create pop-up books.  In the kit were included two blank hardcover books, markers and other accessories he could use to create and illustrate his stories.

As soon as he was done opening all of his presents, he opened the box, grabbed one of the books and the markers, and wanted to get started.  Right then and there.

You know what went through my mind at that moment?

Something like: “Hey, not so fast!  Is that really a good idea?  He hasn’t even had the time to think about it, to plan the masterpiece that would be worthy of being thus immortalized…  Won’t he be disappointed when he realizes he has ‘wasted’ one of his books by rushing in this way?”  Et cetera.  Et cetera.

Oof!  I thankfully held it in.  No more than a feeble “you sure?” went through my lips, and I let him go.

As you’ve certainly guessed, my reaction was totally a reflection of what *I* would have done.  My own insecurities.  The way I would have agonized in front of those blank books before doing anything with them – that is, admitting I eventually would have done something with them, which is far from certain!

Yup, my damn fear of not having the best idea ever, as well as my absolute certainty that I would have a better idea right after I’d started drawing and that I would have thus ruined the whole thing – I’d have let them stop me.  And that’s not even taking into account my fear of not being able to do something that would meet the standards… which standards?  My own distorted stuff masquerading as true universal standards, of course!

In short, I have tons to learn from that wise little guy.  That is why I took notes as I watched him go.

In my mental notebook, I noted that…

Clearly, that artist knew where he was going. No agonizing over details.  Decisions were made quickly, with confidence.

That artist wasn’t hesitating for even one moment. His decisions were put into application as soon as they were made.  He showed that creation happens through action.

That artist’s vision was personal and self-assured. Comments and questions about his work never led him to reconsider his creative choices.

Nowhere in the process did the idea of perfection intervene. When I pointed out that he had forgotten a few words in the middle of a sentence, the artist simply added those words over the line.  He didn’t lament that his page was ruined.

That artist had no difficulty declaring his work done. No existential questioning, no wondering whether something was missing, no interminable fiddling.  A certainty as to the completion of that piece.

He was genuinely proud of his book and happy to show it to anyone who would look. No hedging, no false modesty, nothing but beautiful self-confidence.

And I have to give justice where justice is due: none of the worries I had when this all started were justified.  His book is absolutely fantastic, down to the tiniest details.

The cherry on top of the sundae?

All of that happened pretty late at night, a time at which I’m not expecting much usefulness from my brain, and even less from the brain of a kid of that age.  It was past 1 a.m. when he finished and showed us his book.  What was he doing at a quarter past one?  He was telling me the title of what would be his second book and describing his plan for it, page by page.  Uh, wow.

Also?  When I told him I was delighted to see him enjoying our gift that much and that I was at the same time feeling a bit sad knowing that he would so quickly be done playing with it, he told me not to worry.  He said those books would be fabulous souvenirs and he’d be really happy to have them on his bookshelf.  Such a wise perspective!

All things considered, I’d say I am the one who’s received the best gift.  Thank you, C.

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10 Responses to Lessons from a wise little guy

  1. Sara says:

    I love this! You know, I was having a conversation about this very thing yesterday – with someone else who was feeling the fear of the pristine white page, though I have done it myself plenty of times! – and this is a great way of re-thinking our responses. Thank you.
    Love the site :-)

    • Josiane says:

      Oh, I’m glad you’ve found here a new perspective on something that was already on your mind! Thanks to you, Sara, for taking the time to let me know, and for your kind words about the site – I appreciate it!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Children are such wonderful teachers, without ever/even realizing it!

    • Josiane says:

      They are! And the fact that they’re not realizing it means that it’s easy for me to fail to realize that I am the student… Though I’m getting better at being mindful to recognize those learning opportunities and remembering to take advantage of them. :)

  3. Wow! Thanks for this anecdote. I always say to myself that we really should be learning more from children. It’s just so easy to forget our inner child as we grow up but that’s something no one wants to forget also we are all most of times hiding it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they sure made me realise a few things. And thanks for commenting on my blog.

    • Josiane says:

      Thanks to you for stopping by and sharing your reaction to my thoughts; I appreciate it! :)

  4. Gah, I would have had the same first, instantaneous reaction as you Josiane. How wonderful that you were able to notice it and learn so much. Thanks for sharing the story. It’s something I need to hear every so often.

    • Josiane says:

      It’s kind of comforting to know that even you, Shannon, would have had that same first reaction. :)
      You know, I wrote the story because I need the reminder too. That it ends up being useful to others as well is (delicious) icing on the cake!

  5. Oooh I love this story so much. I’m with Shannon… and you!… I’d have had the same reactions as you… And I hope that like you, maybe, I would have noticed before voicing them but who knows! Josiane, I love your wisdom. I love your gift of observation. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this all down for the benefit of fellow travelers on the curiosity path. xoxo Heidi

    • Josiane says:

      Oh, Heidi, thank you for your kind words! They went straight to my heart.
      It’s interesting that you’re thanking me for taking the time to write it down, as that’s the thing I’m most struggling with. I have so many stories swirling around in my mind… your words are a most welcome encouragement to take the time to put them into writing so that I can share them. Thank you! :)

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