I admire the lack of inhibition in children. Of course it has it down side, but for the most part, I think it is a trait to be nurtured and emulated. Children have not yet learned to be afraid of what other people think of them. They simply experience the world around them and engage it with undaunted enthusiasm and vigor. A rather potent example of this is dance. We are all hardwired to dance. It is part of our nature as human beings to physically respond to music. I have never met a young child who did not dance. It begins almost as soon as they are able to make voluntary movements and continues till the time they learn to be afraid. A baby who cannot even sit up by himself will bob his head to music and older children will jump and bounce and swing around the dance floor with an excitement that cannot be held back – as though they can’t help it. And why should they? It’s natural, joyous, active, FUN.
I recently attended a bluegrass concert where the music was as lively and dance-inducing as it ever gets. And, as I looked around the room, I noticed that every single adult, without fail, sat straight and calm in their seat while their feet bounced in rhythm under their tables. Try as they might (in order to maintain “dignity” and “self-respect”), they could not keep the dance inside. Not completely. It was wiggling out their toes, trying to escape. But the children . . . they didn’t even try to keep it in. They danced wildly around the floor as though no one was watching. Or perhaps as though everyone was watching but they loved it. When do we lose this sence of freedom? What are we so afraid of? Is it because we are so quick to judge others, that we assume everyone else is judging us? Well, as my sister’s teacher told her in high school, “You’ll become much less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” Children believe themselves to be the center of their own little world. And with that understanding, they make the rules. It doesn’t matter what other people think because it’s their world, after all. As adults, we come to understand, rather brutally sometimes, that the world does not, in fact, revolve around us. But some residual part of that belief holds on and we still believe that people are analyzing every little thing we do, because, I mean, why wouldn’t they? But despite our immense worry, people are far less preoccupied with the things we do than we give them credit for. And most people are much less judgemental than we often assume. When you see someone dancing spiritedly at a concert, unconcerned about how professional they look or whether or not they’re messing up their hair . . . just dancing, do you think, “Look at that stupid person! Why don’t they just sit down?” Or do you smile and wish you had the nerve to live in the moment as they did? If your answer is the former, than you deserve to be self conscious and fearful, because you will probably receive the same judgement you give out. But if it is the latter, know that MANY people have that same thought. And most likely they admire you for taking chances and living outside of a box. Perhaps if we all lost a bit of our inhibitions, and let our kids teach us as much as we teach them, we might inspire one another to live a bit more vividly, with open eyes, open arms, open hearts, and more than just our toes dancing!