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Run Freely (A Lesson About Courage)
By Gabriel Daniels
One afternoon, many years ago, I went to pick up my mother from work. I got there a little early so I parked the car by the curb, across the street from where she worked, and waited for her.
As I looked outside the car window to my right, there was a small park where I saw a little boy, around one and a half to two years old, running freely on the grass as his mother watched from a short distance. The boy had a big smile on his face as if he had just been set free from some sort of prison. The boy would then fall to the grass, get up, and without hesitation or without looking back at his mother, run as fast as he could, again, still with a smile on his face, as if nothing had happened.
At that moment, I thought to myself, "Why aren't most adults this way?" Most adults, when they fall down (figuratively speaking), make a big deal out of it and don't even make a second attempt. They would be so embarrassed that someone saw them fall that they would not try again. Or, because they fell, they would justify to themselves that they re just not cut out for it. They would end up too afraid to attempt again for fear of failure.
However, with kids (especially at an early age), when they fall down, they don't perceive their falling down as failure, but instead, they treat it as a learning experience (as just another result/outcome). They feel compelled to try and try again until they succeed. (The answer must be... they have not associated "falling down" with the word "failure" yet. Thus, they don't know how to feel the state which accompanies failure. As a result, they are not disempowered in any way. Plus, they probably think to themselves that it's perfectly okay to fall down, that it's not wrong to do so. In other words, they give themselves permission to make mistakes, subconsciously. Thus, they remain empowered.)
While I was touched by the boy's persistence, I was equally touched by the manner in which he ran. With each attempt, he looked so confident... so natural. No signs of fear, nervousness, or of being discouraged–as if he didn't give a care about the world around him. His only aim was to run freely and to do it as effectively as he could. He was just being a child–just being himself–being completely in the moment. He was not looking for approval or was not worrying about whether someone was watching or not. He wasn't concerned about being judged. He didn't seem to be bothered by the fact that maybe someone would see him fall (as there were others in the park aside from him and his mother) and that it would be embarrassing if he did fall. No, all that mattered to him was to accomplish the task or activity at hand to the best of his ability. To run... and to feel the experience of running fully and freely.
I learned a lot from that observation and experience, and have successfully brought that lesson with me in my many pursuits in life. Since then, I've always believed that in each of us is a little child with absolute courage. A child that has the ability to run freely (or express himself fully and freely)–without a care for anything external–without a care for what people would say if he/she experiences a fall.
I believe that that courageous part of us, that courageous child within us all, will always be with us for as long as we live. We only need to allow it to emerge more fully. We only need to once again connect with that child within us and give that child permission to run freely, just like that boy in the park.