We humans have a very short memory. As time catches up, few lingering thoughts of the bygone days, possibly an album of memorable moments and perhaps a few incidents of the past that take you back to the yester years, are all that really remains. A beaming smile gives way to a sullen one; the buoyancy to a sagging gait and delight to despondency. Are we to blame this overhauling to the galloping years, or should we not censure ourselves for killing the 'child' in us?
Those who have just crossed their teens or those who can count their remaining teeth may find the idea a bit out of the ordinary. But with due regard and respect to all ages, the proposal is not just pertinent, but a foolproof shield against the graying heart. The sceptic might presume that retaining your 'childhood' means not allowing the years to mature your thoughts and actions. A kind of non-conformity, with the knocking today. No it is nothing like that.
I am in my fifties. People of my age or those junior to me by a few years, think that my being a child with children is a bit odd. They smile at one another when they see me play hide and seek, Tipry Tipry tap and then chase to touch the named colour... and at times cricket, in which I am always made the umpire. But it is fun. To run around with children of 8 and 9 years old is an extraordinary experience. They shoo away the cultivated maturity that most are burdened with. They make you a child once again.
We are either leaders or followers. We either think for ourselves or let others do it for us. Most of us value public approval. So much that we fear to be different. We prefer to remain with the masses. The fear of what others might think must always be abandoned in favour of what you think is right.
The grammar of right living is not very complicated. Live in the first person; criticise yourself rather than finding faults with others. Live in the singular number, caring more for the approval of your conscience than for the applauses of the crowd. Live in the indicative rather than a subjective mood. Don't be a Narcissus falling in love with your own shadow; create a shadow that can shelter others. Let your childhood cords never stop vibrating their youthful notes.
"What is the secret of success?" asked the Sphinx. "Push", said the button; "Never be led", said the pencil; "always keep cool", said the ice; "Do a driving business," said the hammer and never let the 'child' in you grow up.
A letter by Abraham Lincoln to the son of his school's principal is a draft that caters to all parents. This is what he writes: "Teach him. If you can, how to laugh when he is sad...Teach him there is no shame in tears...Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob...and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right...never kill the 'child' in him for that will make him a man one day..."
Everyone is the same in the eyes of God. We openly differ in our role-play. Let us be children once again with our beaming youngsters, and remember, no catching years will ever put your clock back. A baby in a cradle is always the centre of attraction and so is a person of 100. Then leap away from the cradle and dance with the young and you will definitely be a centre of attraction.
The writer is a journalist based in India.