The Benefits of Being Childlike—Not Childish*

(Note: Childlike = innocent. Childish = immature)

These past two weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the southernmost tip of Latin America.

As you might imagine, it’s a world of incomparable beauty: the landscape, cuisine, and people conspire to take your breath away.

Days that include waterfalls, rainbows, and glaciers—all before coffee—make it impossible to be blasé: wonder becomes a permanent state of mind.

This state of wonder was enhanced by visits to the Nobel-Prize-winning-poet, Pablo Neruda’s, houses. (Those photos, below.) There we discovered joy in the shape of stained glass, ship figureheads, antique foot warmers… You name it, he collected it, cherished it, reveled in it.

In his words, “A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.”

Now I am guessing there are those among you thinking,

“That’s all well and good for you, Frances, but since I’m grinding away in my office eight days a week, it’s hard to exist in a state of wonder.”  

I get that, too—and I counter with Neruda’s “Ode to Common Things”: a celebration of bread, soap, and tea among other things.

To which you might respond,

“Ok, fine. Suppose I do find the wonder in my bar of soap… what am I supposed to do with that?”

Well, my thought is that if you can find the wonder in your soap it’s only a hop, skip and a mental jump to finding (and bringing) the wonder to your next presentation or conversation.

And what I know for sure is that the people to whom you are speaking will respond to that wonder—and thank you for opening their eyes to a new way of looking at the world.


For more on the value of play, take a look at Plato’s thoughts, “One Hour of Play = One Year of Conversation”