With the Trust of a Child

With the Trust of a Child

The young girl, maybe two or three, looked out the second story window into the sharp morning sunlight.  Her brother waited below on the grass.  He looked up at her, squinting.

“Come on.  Jump.  I’ll catch you.”

Not thinking too much about it, she climbed up onto the window ledge.  Sand, caught in the window frame from years of strong Lake Michigan winds, stuck to her moist plump palms as she hesitated.

“I’ll catch you,” he said again.  Nine years older than the girl, he looked strong as he held out his arms for her.  In a second she jumped and landed without incident against the boy’s chest, safe.

Then she wanted to do it again.

That jump might be the last gutsy thing I have done.  Or was it the last time I trusted anyone?  Or is that jump just an example of what comes from complete boredom with a cottage full of kids in the summer?

In any case, for a few years after that jump, I would challenge myself to jump off things.  Nothing too high, just a few feet at a time.  I worked myself up to jumping off a railroad tie wall that might have been 8 feet tall at its highest.  It was satisfying to land my bare feet on hard ground, even though the shock of it would travel up my legs like lightning.  Jumping was empowering, and when you’re just a kid you think you need all the power you can get.

Little did I know I was more powerful as a child than I am now.   As a child my impetuous tendencies were straight from the heart.  As an adult they are muffled and hard to find.

It is a crime what happens to our open childlike ways, beaten out of us with school, rules, well-intentioned teachers and admonishing parents.  We come into the world full of baby trust that works just fine for years.  Then we pack it away with our baby pictures and wrap ourselves up in layers of safety instead.  Safety is boring.  It counts on fear to bring us around to the monotonous and keep us there.  I know, because I am a big chicken and I often wonder what happened to the real me.

Fear is heavy, too.  We carry it around with us in extra weight, piles of paper, and tons of insurance.   We pay homage to it with big cars and plan for it to enter our busy lives when we least expect it, when we are vulnerable or weak or old.  My mind is exhausted from thinking of different ways fear might stalk me and how I might protect myself.

Where is the young girl of 8 years who rode horses, fell off constantly, and learned to lie on the ground as the horse sailed over her instead of the jump?  Where is the girl who played with her sister on a patch of quicksand that gurgled and bounced like a springy old bed?  Where is the two year old baby who felt her way in the dark to the creepy black basement each morning to stand on the toilet and watch her father shave?

These aren’t the escapades of extreme sports fanatics, but not many of us need those kinds of thrills to feel alive.  Most of us are happy to have the guts to ask a new friend to lunch or to visit a new city on our own. The point is, as a kid we weren’t afraid every day.  We trusted in the world and that things would work out in our favor.   We lived in the moment and created the moments we wanted to live.

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This entry was posted in Body, mind and spirit, Children, Fearless Living, Happiness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to With the Trust of a Child

  1. Kris says:

    Mimi, I love your writing! This is really wonderful and I think you’re very brave! xo kris

  2. I remember that, too! At the house in Lakeside. It was supposedly a fire drill, sanctioned by Mom. I had little or no fear, either, leaping off the roof into Jeff’s arms. I also remember asking to do it again on another day, and she said no.

  3. Mimi says:

    I was wondering about that! It was fun! Now we have a rope ladder just in case.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just returned from a vacation with my kids and my 2-year-old grandson. I was constantly amazed (and occasionally humbled) by my grandson’s complete trust in everyone he meets and everything he encounters. He’ll befriend anyone, and he has no fear of anything. If we were laying about the livingroom, he would roll off the couch into my arms without warning. If we went for a walk and came to a corner he would have walked into the traffic without considering the danger. Blind trust is something we’re born with. Experience takes it away. Fear is a survival tool — we learn to avoid things that have hurt us previously — but that doesn’t prevent me from feeling just a bit envious of the trust that the young and inexperienced have for the rest of us.

  5. I hear you, Mimi! – Beautifully written, very touching and it meets my truth. Thanks much. 🙂

  6. marydpierce says:

    Yes, I remember just what that felt like, the jumping thing. The daring and fearlessness. Once I liked to do cartwheels. Now I cannot bring myself to do it because I know that it is possible I could land wrong and break my neck. More’s the pity. Your writing and your thoughts are lovely. So glad I found you.

  7. Food Stories says:

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  8. Darn you, LEARNING! I proclaim, and shake my fist in rage towards the clouds.
    I am convinced it is learning which has made me more scared.
    Falling off horses is an experience that learning puts and end to. Even if you trust one particular horse, you have learned by eight that you are growing; and by nine that you are not exactly happy with the way you are growing. You have gone to visit your Aunt Fran in the Assisted Living Home even though you don’t recall ever having met her before or even having heard about her, but she is aging (as is your horse) and you see that with age comes a decrese in ability. Your aging horse cannot meet the challenges of a growing obstacle to fly over.
    Jumping is another thing learning interrupts. A vague knowledge of Newton’s law and that the mass of both objects has an effect upon the gravitational pull causes you to believe that since your mass is now greater than it was when you were three, you will surely be pulled more forcefully to the ground.
    Stupid people have insane braveness and strength. I am not talking about the mentally handicapped. We all have that STUPID friend who does stupid things, and comes out unscathed. Think of the show Jackass. None of us want to admit it, but we all know it. My husband and I were talking about it one day and were agreed: “when we were growing up, we were told scorpions can kill you, so we did not play with them… now this idiot is making money off hanging them from his body by their stingers!”
    At least we’re not “The Stupid Friend”…

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