Conversations between Adults and the Children They Once Were

Bergen, Norway, 2011.

Bergen, Norway, 2011.

It is, perhaps, a good idea for adults to periodically, or even sporadically, revisit the ideals held by the children they once were. Engage in deep conversations with the bright-eyed, little person you used to be. Flood him or her with a deluge of questions: What makes you happy? What are your dreams? Am I what you had envisioned yourself to be when you were all grown up? Why, or why not? Allow the sinking in of mutual awe between your present and younger selves by the differences time, alongside experiences, have created. Note whether these differences are vast, or minute. In closing, question yourself whether this made you happy.

The motivations behind such an exercise are multifarious; essentially, they stem from a key observation that adults today appear to have completely lost touch with the children they used to be, which I find incredibly heartbreaking. Each morning, I see throngs of battered souls clad in nondescript corporate wear en route to their offices with countenances so overtly pained, I could not help but to wonder if their work were so draining insofar as each day that they went through was one survived and not lived. What if we went through our entire lives this way, not knowing what we were meant to do? Imagine the enormous creative potential of human beings lost in this dogged pursuit of wealth, status, and power; I cannot help but to mourn for all the parallel lives not lived.

Lately, I had a conversation with my younger self, a bespectacled (rose-tinted, no less) little girl whose aspirations frequently oscillated between being a writer, a painter, a musician, and sometimes a marine biologist who tenderly traced the serrated outlines of the fins of sharks and whales in the mystical ocean. The conversation had left me with much material for introspection, haunting me in bed before sleep stole me away each night, and befuddling me in the mornings as I stared at the reflection of my enamel-brushing self in my soporific stupor.

Arrange a conversation presently; you could save the child you once were from the exasperating banality of quotidian life.

– Agnes Chew


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