The little boy laid on the ground, clutching his tiny little arm, the left one to be more precise. He had just fallen from the tree, the one that stood just outside his grandmother’s house, near the storm shelter. The boy had climbed this tree a thousand times before, but just as little boys do, he tried to climb higher and further than his little hands would allow, and this time the boy, like Icarus, tried to touch the sun, and fell. The pain was immediate and the little boy knew something was wrong. All the people came and carried the little boy into grandmother’s house, where he was offered M&M’s in an attempt to calm his tears.
Now at this point, you are probably wondering, what is so important about a little boy falling out of a tree and breaking his arm? And the answer is nothing. Little boys fall and break things all the time, but that is you as an adult, seeing the story as only adults do, through the lens of time and experience. You are able to fast forward in time, through your own personal experiences, and know that breaks heal, and all will be fine. Adults have that magic power of saying “It will be okay” because they know it will. Children just see the present moment and think it is all about to end.
For this little boy, the problem with breaking his arm signaled a fact that he had already come to know about himself. That he was broken already. Defective from the moment he left the Heavens, when he was sent to the Earth to live out his life. How did he know this you may ask? The little boy could not see well, and like most people that could not see well, he had to wear glasses. Again, at this point, you may be asking yourself, what is the big deal about glasses? Lots of people wear glasses, and they do outstandingly well in life. And again, you would be perfectly right in your telling of the truth, a truth that you as an adult are able to say. But the little boy had one major point of reference that signaled that he was broken, that he was different, and that singular thing was that the little boy had a brother, one that looked just like him, that did not have to wear glasses, who did not have to go to the special doctor and get special things put on his face. The little boy had to answer the question all too many times, that if he had a twin brother, then why did he have to wear glasses? Was he broken?
Here’s a joke, how can you tell the difference between the two little boys? One has two eyes and the other has four. The better to see you with my dear.
Returning back to the story at hand. The little boy, the broken one, now had to wear a cast on his broken left arm, to match the glasses for his broken eyes. Shame isn’t a word that little kids know, but it is a feeling they understand. The shame of having to spend money that isn’t really there on glasses and casts. The shame of having to tape the glasses together to make them last just a little longer until you can get them fixed. To have to ask for help to do things because you only have one arm. The little boy did well with the arm and the eyes, and soon, all was back to “normal”, once the cast was removed and the little boy was finally allowed to return to doing little boy things. Until, one year later, the little boy, whilst doing the little boy thing of roller skating, fell, and again, grabbed his tiny little left arm. There was no need to guess, the arm was bent so much, even the boy with his broken eyes, knew what had just happened. He was broken again.
Another year, another cast, another reason to believe he was just simply broken. Kids don’t want to think they are different, but this one had reason to think he was. Another couple months of being reminded that you are not like the other kids, that you are more fragile, that you are broken. Small minds sometimes can’t understand big concepts, they just understand what they think they know. Little kids firmly believe in things that are not there, like the Tooth Fairy and the Boogey Man, and kids sometimes believe they are something they are not. Broken.
Years pass the the boy grows up. He now has a little boy of his own, one that doesn’t require special things for this eyes, nor special things for his arms, yet. The big boy’s little boy simply reminds him that little kids are what they are, and what a wonderful way to be reminded.
Today the boy is now a man, and like a lot of people, the man now has to wear glasses from time to time. The man laughs and smiles at the circle that has occurred in his life, the instruments that caused him to see the world so differently when he was a child, allow him to see the words more clearly now. Even after all these years, the man can still wiggle his nose to adjust the glasses, just like he used to have to do, when one arm was in a cast and the other was busy doing work. The man now knows he isn’t broken, even though it took years to understand. We adults seem to use the data we received as kids to make assumptions of how our lives are now. We allow the thoughts that kids had then to be the thoughts adults have now, to live in a past where the world remains scary and we remain, broken.
But one day we learn to grow up, we learn the monsters under the bed aren’t there, we learn the monsters in our head can be controlled. The memories of the past are just that, pictures, not reality, and yet we want to hold them in front of us and feel bad for the small child that was there long ago. The old us seems to think if we let go of the painful past we let go of that small child, the one that already felt broken and ashamed of who they were. What we seem to forget is that small children dream of being adults, of being the firefighter, or astronauts, or explorers. We forget that kids don’t always want to remain kids, and by allowing ourselves to live in the past, we allow that small child to remain there too. Small children want to grow, and broken ones simply want to heal, and the only way for that path to happen is to walk it, to move steady down the road and allow time to make us whole and healthy.
Kids don’t like to be stuck in the past, so why do we adults force ourselves to live there? Who is the smart one now?
So what happened to the little boy, the one that fell from the tree, the one that had the bad eyes and the broken mindset? He grew up. He now helps other people that are broken and now tells story of the childhood he had. Wonderful, magical stories of the days when he was a healthy little boy with broken arms and silly glasses, and lived in a magical place where he was allowed to be a little boy. He smiles a lot thinking of the past and he grins when he writes about it. And he wiggles his nose to adjust his glasses when he reads, and delights in the sight of his little boy playing, encouraging him to climb high and touch the Sun. Because that’s what little boys do when they grow up, and aren’t seen as broken anymore, they smile a lot.