If this is indeed true, I think I'm continuing to reap the benefits of working with children/youth over the past eight years. I find myself with an abundance of energy these days, and a joy for life that leads me to do things like jump out in the snow with Joo (and my parents) and sculpt an igloo just for the fun of building something and then sitting in it.
However, while I may possess a renewed youthful vigor, my mind is much different from when I was a child. The Romantic poet William Blake wrote two parallel collections of poems entitled "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience." The former discusses the joys and freedom of childhood innocence before they become corrupted by the world. latter discusses the human experience of working through all the disillusionment and evil encountered in the world to eventually reach a second, higher innocence. In other words, while we may at times want to return to our childlike innocence, this is simply impossible without wiping away our memory of all the heartache and suffering we've seen and experienced. However, it IS possible to plow through to an acceptance of suffering that would have the same spirit of youthful trust and innocence. So I would say that's one goal of mine these days. To have the awareness, responsibility and maturity of an adult with the blissfully free spirit of a child.
While my tall stack of journals and lifestyle of self-reflection may have laid the foundation for this life, my relationship with Joo has been a huge part of finally figuring out how to actually flesh it out in my day to day life.
We've continued to spend some lovely and peaceful nature-filled days here. Joo and mom alternate turns to make sure the brave birds who decided to stick out the cold winter have enough to eat until the Spring comes...
Our Christmas tree (the little pudgy one) has moved on to its next stage in the cycle of life by providing warmth for those same birds.
And as the nation (and world) waits anxiously to see how the Obama administration will shift us all in our next political stage in life, I am encouraged by some words from his inaugural speech, "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." My cousin Daryl who was fasting until Israel withdrew from Gaza has ended his fast today (Day 17) and his devotion and personal responsibility for peace exemplifies the same path I aspire to journey. More specifically, my main focus of these past few months has been on investing less energy in "being right" and more energy in listening to what others are saying to me.