When did we start to lose that joy we felt as a child over the simplest things?
You know, that joy that comes from swirling your tongue around an icy cold ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day?
That joy that bubbles up inside of you when you watch a butterfly land on a bright yellow flower and you just have to smile with happiness?
That squeal of delight that bursts forth from your mouth when you spin round and round until you’re dizzy and fall on the ground laughing?
When did it stop? Because for a lot of us, somewhere along the way to adulthood, it did. It ceased.
Was it when we entered the teen years because we wanted to look cool instead of expressing delight in the things that we now considered ‘childish?’ Was it even earlier than that when adults told us to grow up, and stop acting like children even though we still were that very thing?
Or was it in adulthood when the realities of living in the world, taking care of yourself, and facing responsibility outweighed those joy-filled moments?
I thought of this the other day while watching our three-year-old grandchild. We were outside enjoying a sunny summer day and she was “helping” Nana and Papa with some yard work. As the afternoon progressed, the sun slipped behind some gray-tinged clouds that moved in when we weren’t looking.
Suddenly, it started to sprinkle rain drops. Here. There. Drip. Drop. Then the raindrops fell quickly, leaving little splashes of water on the sidewalk and on us. Just a light and soft rain but enough that Papa started putting garden tools away in the garage and Nana escaped to sit on the front porch.
But not Little One! Oh no, she tilted her face upwards to the gently falling rain, held her arms upward, and exclaimed, “It’s raining! It’s raining! Nana, I love rain!!”
She danced up and down the sidewalk, twirled in circles with outstretched arms, and leaped into the air repeating how much she adored rain and she thoroughly enjoyed getting wet.
She didn’t scurry to get in out of the rain shower, she embraced it. She didn’t dash to obtain an umbrella, she ran with joy and abandonment through the rain soaking up every delicious drop of joy.
Because to her, it was something of joy. Something delightful to behold. Something to savor and revel in and yes, seize the moment to totally relish it.
I observed her briefly and suddenly began laughing myself as her joy became contagious. This little one was teaching her grandmother an important lesson. Joy comes from within.
I ran inside the house to grab my camera to capture those moments of child-like joy on the face of my grandchild.
I wanted to freeze this moment in time because someday she will be a teenager, and all too soon she will be a grown-up. Will she still feel the same way about a sudden little rain shower? Probably not.
She’ll view it as an inconvenience preventing her from whatever she wanted to accomplish. She’ll bemoan the fact that it is ruining her plans for the day. Or it’s messing up her hairstyle. Or some other reason not to find joy in the rain.
As I watched her that afternoon, a wish for her entered my thoughts that she never lose her joy or her enthusiasm for the simple pleasures of life. That she embraces life, come what may, just like she embraced the rain that day. With utter and complete joy.
And this Nana will try diligently to model that for her and teach her to consider all things in this life with joy.
“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” ~ Richard Wagner, German composer