Friday, February 4, 2011

The Envelope

I am comfortably nestled in with a group of folks studying, "A Course In Miracles". 

At one of these gatherings we were discussing the idea of not seeing anything as it is now; that every thing and every person we have contact with, we interact with based on our past experience with that item or individual. It was during this discussion that Jenn Bergen from Infinite Choice Consulting shared a story that gave me a great deal of perspective on the concept. It rolled around in my head for weeks, and when I next saw Jenn, I asked her to share her story here. Being the lovely human being she is, she agreed. (Thanks, Jenn! I would have seriously jacked up your story, probably inadvertently adding creepy clown shoes or something.)

Guys? Jenn. 

Jenn? Meet the gangI know you'll get along famously. 

'Take 'er away, darlin'!

A funny thing about first-born children:  We try so hard to do everything “right”. Everything from toys to foods to interactions.

My husband and I had stocked our daughter’s toy room full of the newest toys. She was our first child, and we were desperate to make sure she was never lacking for anything we could think of. We wanted her to have all the “right” toys.

On her first birthday, we received an incredible lesson. We had spent countless hours and effort making sure her birthday was perfect. All the people we could think of that would want to spend her special day with her, with gifts, cake…..

After she had opened all the gifts that well wishing friends and family had graciously brought, we watched her become mesmerized with the plain white envelope that one of the birthday cards came in. She spent hours playing with the envelope. She ignored most of the toys and became entranced with this dumb envelope. After a few days of my husband and I being entranced watching her play with this envelope, we started to worry. “Is something wrong with her? She spends hours playing with this envelope!” we would say to each other. Now this is where the lesson came into play.

To us, envelopes hold a singular purpose: to send and receive things. But to our daughter, it held so many possibilities. She spent hours putting things in it, folding it, putting her hands in it, putting it on her head, putting it on her feet, closing it and opening it, the list went on and on. She saw it as a purse, mittens, shoes, a book and what ever else her wonderful little mind could create. To us, it was still just an envelope. The phase with envelopes lasted at least 6 months. While I didn’t see the lesson at the time, I filed it away.

Then our second child came along, and her favorite thing in the world was bags, paper especially. Any size and shape—just as long as it was a bag. I thought “How cute, her purse obsession was obviously genetic.” My husband thought “OH NO! Her purse obsession has started already!!!”

We weren’t as worried about the fascination with a non- toy object as we were with our first. But we still put our label and singular use for the bag on her and the bag(s). They are just meant to carry things. But to her, it was something to play peek-a-boo with, a bed for her stuffed animal, a house and again, the list went on and on. And again, my husband and I didn’t see the lesson at that time.

By the time our third child came along, we were completely comfortable with the idea of how little toys truly mean and how much kids enjoy real-world items. My son’s favorite object was a paperclip. It was his gun, his keychain, his whistle, his work. Again, we limited the possibilities and didn’t see the magic that took place in our house not once but three times.

The magic was completely understated and easy to miss, but incredibly profound when we decided to see it.

The lesson we missed was discovering the magnitude of possibility that lies in everything we encounter. If a child, with their limited experience of the world, can see and examine everything with such wonder, what are we able to see? What if we started looking at everything as a child would? What could we create out of our ordinary “everyday” world? What could we see and do with experiences that were once limited?

It took 3 amazing kids and twelve years, but I think we are finally starting to enjoy the possibilities of the envelope.

1 comment:

Becks said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite sayings;

Always remain child-like - not childish.