The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jason's Lesson #4: We Are Surrounded By Love

It seems that we make friends more and more slowly as we age. But Set an eight-year old in a group of other eight year olds, and he will make friends almost instantly.

A.C. Gilbert was a renaissance man. Inventor, Olympic athlete, philanthropist, magician, and puzzle expert. I had some of his magic sets, and a train set, when I was a kid, but had no idea he held world records for pole vaulting and punching bag displays (as a kid, yet! He traveled with a carnival as the "Kid World Champion") and convinced a congressional committee during WW2 that play was essential to the development of healthy kids. Apparently, he brought some of his toys to this group of hard-line military guys, and within an hour they were all on the floor playing with them, remembering their childhoods.

Well, Gilbert gifted Salem Oregon with a Discovery Village, and it is terrific, one of the best "playlands" I've ever seen, with dozens of little nooks where kids can play, explore, learn, My friend Jonna Hayden told me about it, and we had a fabulous day there. Jason spent twenty minutes getting a "feel" for it...and then dove in. I either played and explored with him, or sat back and played Plants Versus Zombies on my iPad while he ran with new friends. Friends. He made them everywhere, and they were like long-lost BFFs or cousins from the cradle. Amazing. I found myself sneaking around, watching him. Watching them. Their affection, excitement, joy in discovery was amazing, and infectious. He gave himself completely to the relationships, nurtured them for hours, and when it was time to go, walked away without regret.

Damn. How does that compare to the way we behave as adults? How many of us can still open our hearts like that? I suspect we hold back, fearing the grief and loss when they walk away.

What a loss. How much joy are we missing with an attitude like that? Life is just too short.

We are surrounded by love. By potential friends, companions, mentors, students, lovers, supporters. Children are little marvels.

For writers: what can you create that reflects the difference between adult and child attitudes toward friendship?

For Diamond Hour followers: can you make a commitment to spending five minutes being more open and friendly than usual? Treating one person as if they might be important to you five years from now? Or conversely, give love and support without asking or expecting anything ever in return?

A question: what would you need to live with a more open, expectant heart? How can you do this safely?

Answer that question, and you've opened the door to another world.


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