Lately I’ve been spending the majority of my time with a one-year-old named Arlo. He’s my boyfriend’s nephew and my close friend’s son. In a short amount of time, this little guy has become a big part of my life. It’s an added treat that he lives right down the street from me, so he, his mom, and I can hang out pretty regularly. He’s the cutest kid around town.
There is nothing I love more than watching him observe, investigate, and look at everything in complete wonderment. Hanging out with a child is a great reminder of just how important the little things are. Obviously banging a pot and a pan together doesn’t make me laugh and squeal uncontrollably like it does for him, but the way he takes it all in is what gets me. He’s playing. He’s learning. He’s amazed and wonderstruck every day by new things.
In adulthood—in twenty-somethinghood, we’ve lost that wonder. We’ve lost that lust to wander and explore, discover and learn. We get caught up in schoolwork and job hunts, rehearsals and schedules, appointments and dates. We become these robotic drones, marching through our mundane lives, working all the time, hoping to find some financial success. Maybe we fit in a happy hour every now and then, but still, we’re doing the minimum. We’re tired, and why shouldn’t we be? We all work really hard.
So we hibernate. We’re on our computers. We’re Instagramming and iMessaging and DVRing. We’re watching the entire series of Weeds on Netflix straight through without leaving the house. We’re totally plugged in and tuned out—but when you’re looking after a one-year-old, you’re completely tuned in.
There’s no greater joy than watching a young child learn something new, discover something he has never seen before and then smile, clap, and shriek with excitement. In these moments, I’m envious. I wish that I could find the beauty and amazement in something so simple the way he does. Why can’t I be like that anymore? Sometimes, I feel jaded. Sometimes, I couldn’t care less about seeing the beauty in the “simple things” strictly because of my life experiences and older age and my inevitable loss of innocence.
When tragedies like the Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes happen, I feel lost. I feel helpless and defeated and completely ready to give up. I can’t see the wonder. I can’t find my imagination. I can’t reach the place in my heart where my dreams are. It’s hard to see the bright side and be amazed by the world we live in and the simple things it contains when you know that there is so much hurt going on. I want to see the world through the eyes of a child, but when the devastation becomes overwhelming, I find this near impossible. And that’s when I turn to Arlo.
I turn to his innocence and happiness. Yes, there is tragedy and devastation and broken hearts all over, but there is also the greatness behind a child’s smile. In his small smile, I find that my faith is restored. I am reminded that I need to play. I am reminded that I need to dream and love and be happy. I’m reminded that there is so much to be thankful for. There is the sunrise and the sunset. There is the fact that every morning I get to wake up and start a new day. There is kissing and laughing and driving with the windows down. There are jokes to be told and dreams to come true. There are starry skies to gaze at and clear blue waters to swim in. There are people to love. There are memories to be made. There are prayers to be said.
A tired routine can get you down. Life’s hardships take their toll. There is no doubt that sometimes life can become boring and monotonous, but when we start to feel like there is nothing to be happy and excited about—nothing to be amazed by—that is when we need to see the world through the eyes of a child. That is when we need little people like Arlo to help guide us back to what’s really important in life—family, friends, nature, learning, exploring, finding wonder in the simple things. I’m trying to allow myself to have more fun. I want you to do the same. Don’t feel guilty for putting off some work until after you’ve had some downtime. Play in nature. Go for a walk. Get lost in a book. Find the fun inside your heart that you thought was long gone. Find your happy. Find your inner kid.
Katie recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!