This week my colleague shared with the rest of our small team part of a transcript from a radio program she had heard over the weekend. The program talked about grade school Christmas concerts which at this time of year are in full force. Part of this transcript hit a chord:
Childhood is another country. They do things differently there. It is a place of wondrous certainty. The last home of the unconditional. Children embrace the shock of the new. They don’t qualify or temporize.*
A theme of our blog posts here is the idea and experience of uncertainty so when I read the words ‘a place of wondrous certainty’ as attributed to children I wondered….. The words rang true and I wondered what it might be with children that could enable this perspective. I also wondered what might happen that causes us to lose this perspective.
Perhaps in the short histories of childhood we still know ‘we will be ok’, pretty much no matter what. ‘Embracing the shock of the new’ seems to require a sense of knowing you will be ok in that ‘new’, whatever it might be. Perhaps a wondrous certainty is more about being certain we will be ok than being certain about what will happen. As a child we know with each interaction might come the shock of the new and we are quite fine with that.
The short histories of childhood have not had the time to build up the experiences that perhaps we will not be ok. We have yet to internalize the socially constructed and quite difficult to define measurements of what ‘ok’ actually means. And as our histories extend and our experiences grow, our definitions of what it means to be ok become more mysterious and ill defined and eventually seem to be supplanted by a shift in seeing certainty as being certain of what will happen rather than being certain we will be ok. The critical reflection of what it means to be ok gets lost in the effort to create a certain future. And without that reflection we can never know if we will be ok in that certain future or not. And within this pattern, a wondrous certainty never seems all that wondrous.
We are social beings; meant to interact with each other. Each interaction we have with one another is founded in uncertainty. And yet we strive to create a certain future through these very interactions with others. A perplexing paradox….. for many of us adults.
Perhaps now would be a good time to shift our focus of certainty from creating a certain future to one of being wondrously certain that we will be ok no matter what the future is.
After all, it is close to Christmas. A time for many of us when our interactions are a little more meaningful and present. A time when the wondrous certainty of childhood is within our reach again. A time when perhaps we can hold onto that place a little longer and bring it forward in a very real way into a new year.
Best wishes for the holidays from TMS Americas.
* Full CBC transcript is here