One of the most beautiful and surprising things about kids is how perceptive they are. You hear your three-year-old say, “There’s a squirrel wagging its bushy tail!” and you think they are using their imagination. But then you look, and sure enough, out the window, way off on the fence, is a squirrel, doing exactly that. How did they even see that? Why did it catch their attention? Why do they love it so much? As they get older, these observations may become a bit more mortifying—as they point out someone’s weight—or a bit more frustrating—as your teenager points out your hypocrisy—but it’s the same phenomenon. Kids see things we don’t see.
Because they’re actually looking. Because their eyes are open.
Some of the research into psychedelics has hinted that the power of these drugs is that they make us temporarily child-like—able to see, as if new and for the first time—the surroundings we have grown to take for granted and lost interest in. That’s really why children are so perceptive. They haven’t “seen it all before.” They aren’t jaded. Unlike us, they don’t tune out everything that isn’t work or worrisome. They actually find a squirrel wagging its tail to be hilarious. Or exciting. Or whatever they choose.
That’s the power of perception. It’s the power of being aware. Of really looking. And it’s one we should try to learn from them, as much as we can. Life will be better and more beautiful if we do.