Children are often seen laughing, playing and, in general, having fun. They are always curious about something and running all over the place. They have the widest smiles and the brightest eyes. They are pure and innocent and are completely content. As these same children begin to mature though, this innocence can begin to dwindle and the same eyes that used to burn with energy can now turn into void stares. They are no longer children. They are young adults and they have lost something.
But no matter how mature they become, no matter how old or sophisticated they may try to appear, there will always be a shard of childhood somewhere deep inside them. This shard is a piece of their childhood, their inner child. I believe in the power of the inner child.
As I prepare to graduate from my experiential and thematic based grade school, The College School, or TCS, I realize how fortunate I am to have attended a school like this. My time at TCS has been a great adventure and, much to my delight, I was able to release my inner child on many occasions. Releasing your own inner child, though, is not as easy as it sounds. You must be at the right place at the right time; you must love life; you must be able to have fun. When you do release your inner child, if you’re able to do so, you will feel happy and care free, you will feel like a kid, happy and content.
In the 6th grade at TCS, our class took a 5-day backpacking trip in Shawnee National Forest where we hiked, canoed, rock climbed, and even experienced a solo night alone in the woods. On the first day, the class was separated into two smaller groups. We didn’t see our friends from the other group each other again until well after dark on the fourth day. As we hiked to the rendezvous spot deep in the weeds, we y group first saw the shadows of the other group standing by the large bonfire. Both groups were silent, but then we crashed together like twin Leviathans. When both groups met, we were no longer students on a trip, we were children in the woods, happy to see our friends, and that was all that mattered.
If you are really lucky and determined, there can be many times in life when you can become your inner child. At TCS, we are lucky to have access to many times like this. Last summer on the 7th grade trip to Michigan, several of my friends and I were lucky enough let our inner child free for the week. We wrestled in the shallows at the beach, we shouted, we swam, we laughed, and we built sand castles. We were innocent, and we were having fun.
And in this day and age, sadly, innocence is a rare thing. It is rare when my friends and I go an entire day without hearing a swear word, witnessing some kind of bullying, or hearing a negative and bitter view of the world.
The truth is that nobody listening to this is completely innocent. The only way that we can ever strive for that happiness and innocence, though, is by finding our inner child again and allowing it to play, allowing it to flourish, allowing it to breath. At least that’s what I do, and I believe in the power of my inner child.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.