Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Lessons From a Toddler
January 13, 2016
Hot Springs, VA
The S&P closed out Tuesday at $1,938. Gold closed at $1,085 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $30.44 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.10%. Bitcoin is trading around $430 per BTC today.
The thermometer reads 4 degrees here in Hot Springs as I sit down to write this morning. Actually, it is my smart phone’s weather app that reads 4 degrees, but I trust it to be accurate give or take a degree. A light dusting of snow covers the ground and the crisp blue winter sky sprawls out overhead. As I place another log on the fire, I can’t help but think: the natural order is a beautiful thing for those who take the time to appreciate it.
I have always had an appreciation for nature’s tranquil beauty, but it is taking on a new meaning for me as I watch my 14-month old toddler grow and develop. The more I observe little Maddie at play, the more I realize a little-understood truth: there is no teaching; only learning.
This concept is as strange to the world as the world must be to a child, but I am beginning to appreciate it more and more. The world sees children as empty vessels to be filled with proper ideologies and dogma, and it attempts to teach, preach, reward, and punish at every opportunity.
However I am beginning to see children not as vessels to be filled, but as candles to be lit. Provide them with love, support, freedom, positivity, and watch them go! To watch a child at play is to observe God at work.
Fourteen months ago Madison was completely helpless and immobile. Today she can crawl, walk, talk, communicate using sign language, drink from a cup, and feed herself. She has learned how to sit on chairs, climb stairs, and ease herself off of the bed. She has learned the names and can identify everyone she comes into contact with, even those who she sees infrequently. She can identify many numbers, letters, shapes, and colors as well.
She learned all of this by simply observing and experiencing the world around her. Sure, the adults in her life communicated names, numbers, letters, shapes, and colors to her, but only within the context of play. Madison learned by seeing, hearing, and doing things she was interested in – not by being ‘taught’.
I attempted to flesh out and extrapolate the practical applications of this concept in the education reform chapter of my book The Individual is Rising. I was operating solely on high-conviction theory when I wrote that chapter, and I am more confident than ever in the theory of Peaceful Parenting now that I have seen it in action.
I always suspected that I would have much to learn from little Madison as well, but I am a little surprised at what those lessons have been. Of course it turns out the lessons have been exactly what I needed at this point in time. Funny how that works.
Prior to my daughter’s birth I considered myself to be a person of strong will and calm mind. Then I discovered that you only know the strength of your will and calmness of your mind when an infant is screaming for a reason you must decipher, and, later, when a toddler is throwing a fit because she wants something you would prefer her not have for safety reasons.
Needless to say, I was not as strong-willed and calm-minded as I thought. I found myself cringing at every whimper and desperately reacting to every cry in an attempt to “solve” the problem. Even when Maddie was perfectly content I found myself sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for the next outburst. Wife Rachel, armed with her motherly instincts and much better suited for the transition, found me quite insufferable.
This went on for as long as I resisted the lesson my daughter was facilitating for me. Then, after this had gone on for months, the lesson slapped me in the face. I guess it got tired of waiting for me to catch on. I happened to dust off my copy of Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman and the lesson jumped right off the page.
What a fool I was! My tense reactions created a tense atmosphere that led to more tense reactions.
There are actually two lessons to learn from this; one obvious and the other hidden. The obvious lesson, of course, was for me to act calmly when appropriate and to cease with the nervous reactions. I learned this lesson within the context of raising a toddler, but its application is universal.
Those of calm mind mold the world around them.
You poke a person whose mind is not calm and he flinches. You prick him and he gets angry. The person of calm mind remains steadfast in his purpose. He does not flinch, nor does he get angry because to do so would be counterproductive. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can 100% control how you respond to it. Strive to act in a loving, positive way at all times and your life will be filled with fulfillment.
The hidden lesson is this: be in the moment. The only way to have a calm mind is to live in the present. The only way to be prepared to act with purpose at all times it to be present in the moment at all times. A Warrior acts, only a fool reacts.
Every time I felt the urge to desperately react to an external occurrence was when my mind was fretting over something I needed to do in the future. At first I struggled with this lesson because I think planning for the future is tremendously important. How can you live solely in the present when you have a business to build, investments to manage, and a daughter’s education to plan?
Then it occurred to me: a well-conceived but flexible long term plan actually enables you to live in the present. Set the plan and follow it for as long as conditions remain the same. When conditions dictate that you alter the plan, do so, and then get back to now.
My happiness has increased tenfold since I ceased reacting and began living in the present. I suspect wife Rachel no longer finds me insufferable because of this. I have noticed that Madison has had fewer “tantrums” since I began striving to exude an aura of positivity. Thank goodness her stubborn Dad finally learned the lessons he needed to learn.
I suspect there will be more lessons from a toddler to come…
More to come,
For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and individual solutions, please read The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition. The Individual is Rising is available through Amazon and at http://www.theindividualisrising.com/. Please sign up for the mailing list to be notified of other projects as they come to fruition.