Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waving at Strangers from Trains and Other Childhood Joys Rediscovered

I was travelling back from a meeting in Guildford today, getting frustrated by technology (Macs. Argh.) and staring out of the window, when suddenly I was seized by a compulsion to wave at passengers on a passing train. I can only assume that my inner child was fighting its way out, urging me to break free from the shackles of work responsibilities, if only for a moment. And what a moment it was when after 30 seconds of bemused looks and uncomfortable shifting in seats, someone finally waved back.

From the grin on his face and enthusiastic flailing of arms, it was clear that my fellow waver had also been possessed by, and was utterly embracing, his inner child. It was a good feeling to have passed along a little joy and shared an uncomplicated interaction with a stranger, and to know that there are others out there who still want to act like kids occasionally, too.

It got me thinking about other little things we do that recapture the simple pleasures of childhood. Like the other morning when I arrived at work to observe a colleague slowly collecting and contemplating conkers from the path up to the office. He's six foot four and beardy, but for those few minutes he projected all the calm simplicity of a five year old enthralled by the wonders of nature and the possibilities of conkers. It was heartwarming, truly.

Intrigued by the notion of simple childhood joys, I asked some friends* how they like to release their  own inner child; the responses were prolific and most entertaining. Here are my favourite suggestions, which I encourage you to try (go on, let go a little. You'll feel better for it, I promise). Feel free to add your own.

Top Ten Ways to Stir Your Inner Child

  1. Waving at strangers on a passing train
  2. Collecting conkers
  3. Eating cake mix
  4. Shouting really, really loudly
  5. Writing 'BOOBIES' into a calculator
  6. Turning down the TV and making up dialogue for the actors
  7. Asking "why?" repeatedly
  8. Running (or even better, doing roly-polies) down a steep hill
  9. Splashing in puddles
  10. Making up stupid poems or song lyrics (and saying them loudly)

*Thanks to Nick, Ben, Roger, Katie, Karen and others for their contributions.

Photo by Minusbaby on Flickr
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