I like the childlike simplicity behind the design of this quote. It speaks to a sort of wisdom. The clear, unselfconscious wisdom of children. Children make decisions based on what is likely to improve their experience, rather than what is likely to improve their reputation or status. The reason this is wise is that reputations and social status exist only in other people’s imagination, whereas your experiences are what you know as your life.
Imagine a group of kids playing in a sand box. These kids all play together a lot and they are bound together by their mutual pursuit of fun. They genuinely like each others company. So when Kid A steals Kid B‘s toy bulldozer, Kid B will only be bothered until he notices something that looks fun. And he’s so focused on fun that he’ll pick the most fun choice even if that turns out to be Kid A again. If Kid A stole the bulldozer too many times he would become not-fun. So Kid B would then walk away from the friendship not out of pride or righteousness, but simple because the other kid wasn’t fun anymore. Adults can’t have fun like that because they can’t forgive like that, and that’s because adults judge.
What would an adult do in the same situation? First they would argue. Probably for some time. They would mention ideas like fairness, and rightness and wrongness, and they would have all kinds of reasons why Kid A shouldn’t have taken the bulldozer. Blah blah blah. The fact is he did take it. So then if there wasn’t violence following the argument there would be distance. Maybe some pouting. Maybe social attacks, like calling the other person’s friends and saying things to undermine them. There would certainly be gossip—everyone would need to hear the story. The recounting. The perspective. All over a little bulldozer. “But it’s the principle” they would argue. Meanwhile, the kids play.
Pride, envy, jealousy, bigotry, are all thought-forms. You don’t feel those like love or compassion. They aren’t immediate, like instrumental music. Those emotions are based on lyrics. There’s a story that goes with those sorts of emotions. Adults tell themselves those stories because adults believe that the world of rules in their head is somewhere they can actually live. Kids haven’t even built such a place yet, and so no concept of being jailed there can exist. They are free to live in a state of forgiveness.
Kids are less interested in who’s right and who’s wrong, or who’s to blame, or even who’s truly different. The one thing you don’t want to be with a kid is not-fun. Then they’ll focus on any difference you have and be cruel. But if you’re fun you’re in. Fun can mean captivating like a good teacher, or engaging like a great movie or painting or book. Or it can mean laughing and playing with friends. The point is to be focused on the living, and not on trying to make our living look good to others. There are no others. We’re all one. So forget about others thoughts and focus instead on what looks like fun. Because that’s all you were ever supposed to do.
Be childlike. Enjoy your day not by gathering, but by letting go. You can do it. You already have.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.