Letting children play allows them to remain in a state of flow. This is incredibly vital given that flow is the natural state of life.
Nature does not force, rather it moves as a young child moves, instinctually, with the intelligence of the whole guiding it through quiet whispers and nudges. It simply knows, in the same our heart knows; it knows without knowing how it knows.
When children give themselves over to their play, and specifically unstructured play, they move as a river does, as the heart does, moment-to-moment, fluid and free. It is within this natural state that they stay connected to their inner whispers and nudges, the ancient impulses of life that breathe into their hand as they doodle, into their thoughts as they imagine, into their feelings as they emote, into their movements as they spiral.
It is no wonder we say children are closest to God. They embody the fluid nature of life. Their bodies are still elastic enough to share their spontaneous downward dog on the grass. Their tongues are still receptive enough to set the melody born in their belly free. Their minds are still open enough to take majestic flights to far away places so many adults no longer travel to.
They go where life takes them, moment-to-moment. They dance freely to the music sung to them from stars above.
It is therefore vital that we do whatever we can to allow them to stay connected to the flow of life, to their inner flow. We redirect them away only because we have forgotten how to dance. The ancient music is no longer heard reverberating in our bones. To feel and trust as a child does is a struggle. We have been swimming upstream for so long that we assume this to be life. And we deeply fear the loss of control, the vulnerability, the wild abandon needed to let the river, our hearts, carry us. As such, instead of playing with life, we work at it! We work upstream.
In play, we are connected with. In work, we are separated – “at”. I am here, and nature is over there. I work here, and play over there. I am a professional here, and more myself over there.
We have broken ourselves into pieces, separating ourselves from life, from Earth, from our hearts, from others. And then we ask children to swim against the currents upwards into the mind for the sake of “making it” in a world full of lost, exhausted souls. They are pulled out of their state of flow, from the part of them that knows without knowing how they know, for the sake of knowledge that can never feed the heart.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
What is success but the willingness to allow life to flow like a river through our heart? To courageously act on life’s longing for us? Success is not so much about how well we live “out there”, but how well we live within. It is the alignment of the human heart with the Heart of Creation. It is the ability to trust that we are not alone, and the willingness to give ourselves over to the greater hand at play.
If only we give ourselves over in the same way the raven gives herself over to the wind, the leaf gives itself to the soil, the Earth gives itself to the sun. If only we remember that we are not breathing, but being breathed; we are not pumping our hearts, blinking our eyes, growing our hair. If only we relax our tired muscles and minds long enough to make room for the mystery to take hold, the mystery that children are so attuned to.
Let children play and we let them continue to dance in the unknown; we let the mystery inform their wide open senses, their footsteps, their tongue, their gaze at strangers passing by. We let them move in their unpredictable wild currents, just as a leaf rides the river towards the unfathomable sea.
“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.” ~ David Ross Brower
* * *
Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults