When was the last time you observed the world with the same awe, wonder and playfulness that children do?
As a child, the most exciting part of a birthday party was the treasure hunt. In groups – or alone – we would start on our mission: eager, motivated, and – not even knowing what the treasure would turn out to be – desperate to find it.
The moment we heard the signal; the moment we heard the Go! we would start running – chaotically – into several different directions; before grouping together; trying to decide on a course; and trying to find our first clue.
Our path to discovery was a happy one. The sun on our back, we would explore on the way – for you see – we grew up in the country side: there were green meadows around us, deer, rabbits, daisies and raspberry bushes. We would stop – here and there – to have a rest, enjoy the view, the wind in our faces; and simply be in awe of the things we would find – even if they were not yet the desired treasure… There were stones, flowers, berries, sticks.
People walking by would wave their hats hello at us. They felt our excitement – they shared our joy and – more often than not – would discreetly point into those directions in which they had come across another clue. With bright eyes and a conspiratorial smile we would thank them for their contribution to our hunt. Then we would part ways, merrily.
Sometimes, having misinterpreted clues, we would run into the wrong direction: breathlessly arriving at a river that we couldn’t cross and yet could admire; adventurously jumping over fences and learning how to climb trees. It wasn’t always easy: trousers tore, skin got cut and bodies bruised – but it was always worth it and we did it with a laughing heart. Often – quite miraculously – we would find our way back to the original path; in other cases we would realise – dismayed – that we needed to turn around. Yes, we lost time – but we gained so much more.
We didn’t always find the treasure. And even though in many cases we did, it isn’t the treasures I remember most fondly: it’s the people who were by my side and the ones I met along the way; it’s the excitement of exploring new things, of getting it wrong and gaining skills while doing so. It’s knowing that all the dead-ends, all the detours, all the grazes and all the torn clothes have lead me to my current starting point; to my current clues; and to my current treasure hunt.
And as I am sitting here – reminiscing – I am wondering: what your treasure hunt looks like… Where have you come from? Where are you now? What treasures have you found along the way? Who have you met and who will you meet? What other treasures do you desire? Where will you find them? And what other wonderful things will you see, hear and feel in the process? Who will you become and what does your life look like: through the eyes of a child.