Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry when pets and people pass away.
Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
by William Martin
Blessed be the little ones.
They come into this world with big eyes, purity and innocence of heart, completely vulnerable and dependent on us. They look towards us for safety, love, comfort and understanding. They need us to show them how to walk, how to speak and how to behave. In truth, children learn by our actions, behaviours and how we treat ourselves; by our showing, not teaching.
In this world that we live in, there is constant pressure for the ever more, the ever bigger. But this would never be fulfilling. And if we encourage them to lead lives where appreciation comes from achieving, rather than cherishing and creating, then they’ll grow up believing that this is the only way they would be loved – not for who they truly are, but for they have achieved.
Children have their own unique paths and should be supported, unconditionally. We carry the responsibility that we will be paving the roads they’ll walk on – not by our teaching, rules and words, as they will follow our actions. Showing them rather than teaching them is what matters.
So what is magic anyway? It is making the ordinary extraordinary. It is the ability to enrich our inner lives, within the boundaries and limits, so that we begin to expand our consciousness and experience of life. It is instilling a sense of purposefulness in every little thing, a touch of a hand, the taste of grapes, feeding squirrels, the scent of flowers and the magic of finding a snowdrop.
It is instilling the unspoken values of our world like the law of reciprocity, respect and privacy, and the law of love. That our self-worth is not dependent on our grades, careers or status – but rather on our virtues. That some things in life may be fated, but it is our character that creates our destiny and will walk us to where we desire to go. That there is no courage without fear, there is no strength without weakness. That failure is the courage to allow ourselves to try, and those who never fail are just those that never tried anything new. That everything in life carries its vibration including the words that we speak, and so every day we make a change by the choice of words we use – for kind or harm, for encouragement or criticism.
To show them how to make the ordinary come alive and create a life of purpose, fulfillment and virtue – we ourselves need to lead that kind of mindful life. We’ll have to constantly contend with the pressure of the ever more, ever bigger that our culture seeks to impose on all of us. We’ll have to sometimes take the hard roads, because we didn’t want to suffice for the mainstream if that meant to go against our values. This all takes courage, discipline and perseverance – to walk slowly, live simplyand see clearly. It takes courage to see the extraordinary wonder in a daisy. It takes courage to see clearly beyond those that paint sparkling pictures. It takes courage to see the world as it really is, yet have the audacity to imagine how it could be.
Children are already magical. They already know how to make the ordinary come alive. They see the world through wonder and curiosity, finding pleasure in the little things. In fact, it is they who remind us of magic. All we have to do is continue to encourage that within them.
Children have a natural connection to the wild; to the animals and to nature. They also give names to their toys and all else around them. This is important. In many Indigenous cultures, Name Giving is an important tradition. It is the reminder that spirit is imbued in everything; that it flows through everything. And this creates deeper connection as well as inspires respect, caring and paying attention to all around us. It is essentially a dialogue with what negates the rational, with the mysterious; a language of the sacred. Children do this automathically because they are more connected to their psychic senses and the otherworld, thereby understanding the natural connection. We should encourage treating nature and wildlife with respect as this carries significant lessons and bonds they’ll hold forever in their lives.
When we spend time with them doing the ordinary things in life, we inspire in them finding pleasure in the small things and teach them many virtues. Their focus shifts to kindness, compassion, friendship, caring, appreciation and gratitude.
When they mishave, may we give them kindness and respect. When they behave, may we give them kindness and respect. When they betray trust, love them. When they act out, love them. When they fail, love them. When they are confused, clarify and simply and be consistent in affection.
Love nurtures everything it touches, without asking for anything in return, like the rivers and waters of life.
Trust and show kindness and respect in the faces of disrespect and doubt – they will watch you do that and this will teach them all the virtues they’ll ever need in life.
We must also encourage their natural desires. We all have desires – this is not a bad thing, not a needy thing. We all share the desire of connection, appreciation, friendship, belonging. And we also have other natural desires such as food and water. We need to show them that there is a natural unfolding of things; that if we allow it, the world will offer itself to our heart and imagination and we’ll find ourselves in the family of things.
There are also empty desires, such as fame, wealth, power, control and lust. We must show them that focusing on these will never be fulfilling. We show them by our example; by how much immense happiness can be found in loving, dancing, creating and caring our garden (for example). We show them by our own ability to lead a life of mindfulness.
Learning the cycles of the land is also important. Everything in life has its cycle of growth and there is also a gestation period. Every creation takes time, as snowdrops grow in shade from beneath the ground. They must not feel discouraged if something is not “showing” yet and must embrace the waving faces of life. Sometimes there will be tears and we’ll embrace them ackowledging their sadness. Sometimes they will fail or be faced with the mysterious hands of “No” and we’ll still be there to embrace showing them that it is okay.
Because we love them as they are. Because we accept ourselves as we are. And they too, because of us, will accept themselves as they are.
We’ll show them the magical potential of doors; of the unknown and mysterious so that they continue to embrace curiosity. We’ll show them how beautiful it is to love and care for their stuffed toy, rather than buy a whole bunch of toys that they wouldn’t pay attention to anyway. We’ll show them the beautiful inner lives that they have because we love and accept the beautiful inner lives that they have.
We’ll remind them that worrying is natural but when the night comes, it is time to sleep because the morning is always wiser and the sun again will shine; and then we’ll figure it all out together, hand in hand, side by side.
We’ll remind them to take solace in the quiet corner of their heart, to lay their head on their soft pillow and sleep calmly. Calmly child, calmly. Lightly child, lightly. I am here.
We’ll share family stories and fairytale stories; for all the wisdoms that they hold. Because life’s roads are never straight or direct; they are full of twists and turns. And hope is a through-line narrative. Love is the through-life narrative. To believe in themselves just as we always continued to believe and trust them, in all their changing faces and phases.
May we remember.
Childhood is not all sweetness and fantasy. Real childhood is full of its own intensities, worries, and adversaries. They are faced with their grander-than-life dreams which crash down. They are faced with the mysterious hands of “No” for reasons they are incapable of understanding yet. Who knows why their parent was stressed and acted out? Who knows why they can’t have another candy and watch TV all night? In their beautiful minds, their only possible explanation is that they are not loved or that they’ve done something wrong. It’s a mystery. And it has deep impacts. So may we remember. May we remember to try to understand their worlds and the eyes through which they experience life. They are not drama queens/kings when they throw tantrums.
In their worlds, they are heroes and wizards making magic, failing miserably because no one sees their magic and then trying to make sense of everyone and everything around them.
No matter how much we try to shield them or protect them, we won’t be able to.
So the best thing we can do is pay attention to them. To support them, cherish them, offer help when we can, and never hide from the hard or unpleasant. To inspire in them the kind of consistency and safety into which they will fall with peace and comfort, knowing we will love them no matter what.
All they ever need is our engagement with them.
When we engage with them in the simplest of ways, without making demands, we show them the importance of what truly matters in addition to consistency of support, attention and affection. And if we show them the importance of making the ordinary come alive, then they too will know, somewhere in their hearts, that no matter what they achieve or don’t achieve, do or don’t do, no matter how small or insignificant, it is enough and they are loved.
And there is nothing ordinary about that. Because paying attention is what gives rise to the most extraordinary of moments; of connection.
Blessed be the moments of affection.
Blessed be the hands with which I hold you.
Blessed be the forest of cathedrals.
Blessed be the water wells of tenderness, compassion and forgiveness.
Blessed be the willingness to try.
Blessed be the wild things with fur and feathers.
Blessed be the sky with lanterns from fairy tales.
Blessed be your heart of innocence and purity.
Blessed be your magical eyes.
Blessed be our play time.
Blessed be our quiet time.
Blessed be our tears for they too bless and nourish trees.
Blessed be the magical power of fire making our food.
Blessed be the magical potential of doors.
Blessed be the unseen places.
Blessed be the mysteries.
Blessed be the unknowns of life, for this is where the miracles will surprise us.
Blessed be my long kisses on your hands.
Blessed be my hands always holding yours.
Blessed be our freckles.
Blessed be our efforts.
Blessed be our laughter.
Blessed be our words we were afraid to speak.
Blessed be the wishes that our heart makes.
Blessed be our courage to fail.
Blessed be our curiosity and wonder.
Blessed be our patience in the cycles of the land.
Blessed be the rivers that wash away.
Blessed be folding the laundry.
Blessed be the stories we tell.
Blessed be feelings for knowing kindness and empathy.
Blessed be the movements of the body.
Blessed be the dance of hawks.
Blessed be the prayers of our heart.
Blessed be our napping times.
Blessed be home.
Blessed be family.
Blessed be trust and respect.
Blessed be many cuddles.
Blessed be the little things.
Blessed be extraordinary in the ordinary.
Blessed be the little ones.