When I was three years old, Neverland existed, people could fly and believing could get you anywhere in the world. With this in my mind, I, a brave blonde baby, climbed onto the armrest of the couch and stared across my living room from the height of an adult. Closing my eyes, I prayed for pixie dust, and I believed with all my heart that if I jumped, I would fly. And so, I jumped.
I think some would pity me at that moment. That poor child, so unaware of the world around her, subject to fantasies. I would pity them. For, they would be unable to understand that a world without a little fantasy and belief in something beyond oneself is not quite worth living. Everything requires some ounce of faith.
I do envy my three-year-old self in a way. Carefree, oblivious, and expected to be so. Imagine for a moment, a seventeen year old with the mindset of a three year old. Rules would no longer be constraining, our parents would have every answer, and we would still turn to them with all the questions. The idea of school would excite us at every thought, and riding in the big yellow bus would graduate us, turning us from mere children to school-going children, an entirely different breed of adolescents. Instead, life’s a little different. Rules are followed if we know we’ll be caught, and if we’re caught, sometimes we’ll lie our way out. Parents no longer seem to understand, even though they claim they do, and I no longer believe that they have the answer to everything, if anything. School sometimes seems a burden, and soon we will actually be graduating. Being three seems liberating.
But we can’t be three. We can’t jump off of couches anymore with the hope of flying because now we know, and once we know, we can never stop knowing, knowing that the world has its flaws because people have their flaws, knowing that magic, if it exists, won’t waste its time helping me fly, knowing that adulthood is filled with responsibilities that come adjacent to the freedom, knowing that after graduation, some of us will never see each other again, knowing.
I still maintain that we need to learn a lesson from our childhood selves, the lesson that things do require a little faith. For as we grow up, sometimes that faith seems to fade. I’m not talking about a faith in God, or even in humanity, but in your friends, your parents, your acquaintances and yourself.
It seems a rather cliché advice, believe in yourself. But perhaps clichés exist because the message they send is applicable to everyone. Believe you’ll get into college, that you’ll graduate, that you’ll fall in love, that you’ll be successful, whatever that means to you. Just believe.
And that’s the key to childhood, and to life: a faith in things. It’s just, as you grow up, those things move from the fantastical to the realistic, an inevitable reality that innocence is evanescent.
Although, sometimes I wonder if at three years old, I actually believed I could fly because when I jumped, I jumped out over the couch, landing in its soft cushions I had positioned to take the blow when I, as predicted, fell from the air.