childlike vs. childish – a salute to the newborn

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There’s a big difference between a person who’s childish and a person who demonstrates childlike qualities, whether you’re quoting the AP Stylebook or not (I’m going to charge them for that plug). The former is strictly immature. No other way to look at it. The latter is how we should be, yet seemingly forget how to be.

We start off as a child where everything is new and exciting. Things we see are things we have never seen before. They haven’t become regular. They haven’t become ordinary. They’re brand new. Take that inedible object on the floor. A small child doesn’t know he or she can’t eat it. So they give it a little taste test. This is why children are so enraptured by vibrant colors, why their heads will swivel to the brightest object in the room that they want to touch, to feel, to experience.

As our minds evolve, we assign names and labels to objects both everyday and extraordinary. That big green thing in the yard is no longer that big green thing, it’s a tree. And around it are roots, grass, rocks, creepy critters, squirrels and plants. We classify it, categorize it and subdivide it, and in process we lose our inherent fascination with it. We don’t want to touch it anymore. We know what it feels like.

We can’t lose this childlike quality. We can never grow too old.

But what we must lose is the childish side of ourselves, better dubbed as immaturity. The two are not to be confused. The selfish, proud, greedy and self-interested side of the child must be left behind. Obviously, this happens at different times to different people and to vastly different degrees. But regardless, it must happen. Re-examine yourself and what you and your actions represent.

Quit being a damn baby (in the childish form of the word). [Wo]Man up! It’s not all about you anymore. You’re not 12 with your parents doting over you. Time to make your own way.

Live wild. Live free.

And stay childlike.

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One Response to “childlike vs. childish – a salute to the newborn”

  1. be like despereaux « livin' like a freebird Says:

    […] My favorite quality of Despereaux is the child-like awe in which he holds the world (see my post on staying child-like). […]

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