I have had the privilege of watching several children grow into adulthood, and witnessing their transformation has been priceless. I have experienced extreme joy, sorrow, pride, and disappointment; all of the many emotions associated with life itself. However, what I find truly amazing is the innocence and determination of a child.
I remember when many of my nieces and nephews learned to walk. Most of them crawled before they were able to balance themselves to stand up. They would pull up on a piece of furniture or whatever they could grab hold of, and stand. They often looked around with eyes of wonder and adoration, exploring and trying to figure out the “world” around them. I watched them make an effort to take a step or fall down because their legs were tired or just too weak.
What resonated with me then, and what continues to amaze me today, is the resiliency of children.
Children are not mentally equipped to place limitations on themselves. They have no set boundaries, and they do not experience the world in terms of time. Children learn as they grow.
What does this have to do with MS and chronic illness? It is quite simple: Observing children and the way they experience the world inspires me. It encourages me to look at the world and my obstacles through the eyes of a child. I try to see possibility instead of despair.
I aspire to look at situations as opportunities instead of limitations. Yes, it is often challenging to occupy this mindset, but challenging does not mean impossible. I remind myself that just as those children keep trying, I must continue to try as well. I am reminded that even though I may fail and fall at times, I can still aspire to get back up.
Chronic illness can lead us into despair.
We can become fretful, anxious, and fearful. Within moments, our lives can change. Most of us are familiar with these troubling emotions. Physically and mentally we may be impaired, but just as a child does, we too must strive to defeat our limitations. I am not so much referring to our physical restraints (or clinical depression, which many of us struggle with) that are often beyond our control. I am speaking more to the mental and psychological barriers that we may employ, which often inhibit our progress, or the way we view life in general. Our attempts may not always end in triumph, yet we must continue to go on despite them. We learn from children that we have to travel this journey one step at a time.
We fall, we rise, and most importantly, we go on.
This is simply a reminder that we have all viewed the world around us from a child’s perspective because we, too, were once children. Although we cannot go back to being a child, we can remember that there are valuable life lessons learned from childhood. Let’s remind ourselves that just as the world is an intimidating place, children are not intimidated by the obstacles they are confronted with. They persevere until they reach their goal, crawling until they learn to walk. In the midst of falling, they have the determination to rise and try again.
If you can, remember a child in your life and reflect on the ebbs and flows of their development. Take a moment to reflect on (or if possible, watch) how they attempt to maneuver and understand the world around them.
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