If I am not mistaken, we had a brief hail-storm about an hour ago. I was not expecting this, and now that it's sunny out -blue skies, puffy clouds; the works!- it almost seems like the icy sprinkle was nothing more than imagination. Or further evidence of climate change. But I digress. It's curious or ever-surprising or humbling or all of the above when something happens that makes you look twice, double back on the events as you initially saw or experienced them. Do you know what I mean? It's like those über-realistic dreams where you wake up and are completely sure that all you dreamt is, in fact, totally real. I can't tell you the number of times I've called friends and family to make sure they're OK, not sick/angry/lost, no trouble has befallen them. Or the dreams in which you are so active that when you awake you're convinced you never even slept. Those are among the worst because you're so damn tired afterwards. Or the ones in which you're terrorized by something happening to your child(ren) and you run in their rooms and clutch them, daring to wreck their slumber simply to assure yourself that they're there and OK. Those are plain awful.
But there are also those everyday experiences that almost give you whiplash: did I just hear what I thought I heard? did that come out wrong? did it just hail? Like an internal game of telephone, you wonder if the output is consistent with the input. These sorts of occurrences can be amusing ("did you say you farted loudly? no, I said I started proudly"), confusing (see previous example prior to correction), disconcerting and even upsetting, and in that regard, I wonder if this is why dialogue about potentially distressing topics (politics, illness, race, etc) is sometimes glossed over rather than delved into.
It is safer to just not go there rather than ask, inquire, maybe appear ignorant or different, end up arguing though that's unintended, perhaps offend though accidentally. That riskiness sure seems to me to be a definite possibility for why adults tend to become more entrenched in their ideas and ideologies as they age. It is easier and more comfortable to keep company with those you know share your views and values.
Yet doesn't this do us all a disservice? In some ways, doesn't it remove some of the diversity and excitement in the unknown from our lives? I look at my children and the kids they're friends and classmates with as well as kids we don't know but meet at the park or the like. Even if they're shy, they are so, SO open. Eager to experience the world around them, to ask and learn, take risks and even fail. Most everyone is a potential new friend, and in interacting with others, they very often do so without filters. They say what they feel, what they observe, and if there's disagreement, you hear about it. But then it's gone, more play to be enjoyed.
I watch this with my boys all the time. They love each other so much, miss each other during the school days, cannot wait to play with one another. But boy can they let each other have it. Yet that never diminishes their relationship; rather, it strengthens it. It's admirable really, inspiring. It might be because they're boys; you might know the stereotypes: anger is fleeting, grudges aren't held, they get their aggression out and then poof, back to the Legos. But even if there is substantiation in that gendered claim, it's more universal than that in young children.
The unfettered curiosity about others becomes shaped as they grow. Of course it does, this is what experiences do. Yet I hope so strongly, so deeply, that I can help them hold onto their openness for as long as possible. To look at things critically but fairly, to analyze situations with an eye towards what they can learn rather than what immediately repels them, to be vocal about injustice wherever they may witness it, to remember that kindness and openness will allow them to live their lives in truly experiential ways. I try to live this sort of life daily. I don't always succeed, sometimes I want to throw in the towel because it's hard, sometimes I disappoint myself deeply, but I do try, and perhaps that's why the fairly normal hail-in-mid-November shocked me so much. I'd expected one thing and got another. Lucky me because instead of running errands, I listened to music and made a big pot of soup. You just never know.