A few times a week after work, I jump on my bike and ride to my city’s local park to clear my mind and move my body. While riding a few days ago, I witnessed a mini snapshot of a young family’s interaction. However fleeting this scene was, it caught my attention in a big way.
A father, mother, daughter, and son (that I’d estimate to be around 10 years old) just arrived at the park. While the parents were unloading the car, a couple of feet from them stood the young boy in a day dreamy, happy-to-be-at-the-park state of mind near a small tree. A bird suddenly appeared out of nowhere, fluttering next to him and the tree. Startled, he giggled and yelled out in delight, “It’s a bird!” His mother, annoyed, turned to him and in a sarcastic tone said, “Yes, it’s a bird. You see them all the time.”
Yes, she is probably right, but in that moment, that boy truly saw a bird. He was experiencing one of those precious mystical moments when one is in a pure state of present-moment awareness. Though the mother was probably just cranky, she was unaware of how damaging a few simple words like that can be. I started to think about how damaging seemingly automatic responses can be; sometimes powerful enough to shut a sensitive soul down for years.
In my own efforts to express myself as an introverted, creative child, I experienced much of the same kind of shaming as I imagine many people have. Luckily, I was able to maintain who I was at my core by going underground with my feelings and then channeling them through my art. It took me many years to grow more loving and accepting of myself in order to have the courage to express myself in the outside world again. Unfortunately, others aren’t so lucky; it can take a lifetime to reconnect with oneself and regain a sense of trust, if at all.
During my ride home, my mind was on that boy. I prayed that this exchange would not cause him to repress his beautiful childlike innocence and sense of wonder. I thought about how special he was to notice and take delight in that simple moment and how the world needs more sensitive beings like him.
Words have power. Be mindful of the words you use. Choose words that express appreciation, love and respect.
How have words impacted your life?