I love hanging around children. They are bold, daring, cheerful, and fun-loving without a care in the world. We were all once children ourselves. It was a time when everything piqued our curiosity, but we were unafraid to confront our fears. Nor did we accept things at face value. We were realistic about what made us happy and what made us sad. We abhorred dancing around in the grey area. Life was much more clear cut, a black and white proposition.
Decades later, I can no longer find that childhood indefatigable spirit. Adulthood can change a person in many ways. In school, we were sheltered from the ugliness of reality. But in the real world, the rules by which we played as children are no longer in force. As adults, we are forced to speak, act and think in a certain way, according to an unwritten code laid down by our society. Most of all, we have been taught to choose our words carefully and tip toe around uncomfortable issues. While we are more careful as adults, we also become confined to a narrow set of assumptions. Gradually, we become boxed in by a narrow perception of the world and develop a set of biases that blind us to different ways of think about the world.
As a kid of the 80’s and 90’s, I was a big fan of the two Home Alone installments starring McCaulay Culkin. I still watch the replays every Christmas with fondness and nostalgia. Who can forget that adorable Kevin McCallister up against two big bad guys who repeatedly underestimated him? Why do I and so many others love Kevin? It is because he saw right through the evil of Harry and Marv. He did not accept at face value that Harry was just a police offer who kindly offered to watch his home while the family was on vacation. He continued to question the status quo instead of playing nice with two wet bandits and even his family members.
As adults, we all need a little bit of Kevin McCallister. To be bold, daring, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. He did not just take on the bad guys; he even challenged his family in their assumptions about him. Little did his brother Buzz realize that Kevin was capable of looking after himself when everyone had written him off as a troublemaker. Look around you. Some of the most successful people in the world today are those who have retained their childhood spirit. They are the bold ones, the creative ones. They are all a bit like Kevin. Of course, being careful with our words and actions is the art of sophistication , but one can never be too careful that we become boxed in that we lose that childhood spirit.