You do not need a magic wand to make inspiration happen, a wooden spoon will do.
I recently came across one of my very favourite photographs from the Secret Garden which, for me, truly epitomises the idea of early years discovery. In the picture is a child of about three years old, who, with her mum, is exploring the soil and getting involved with seed-sowing activities. Wrapped up tightly into a bundle with warm clothes, she is wearing some dazzling glittery wellingtons that almost reach her knees, and a bobble hat which completes the ‘put everything on’ knickerbocker-glory look.
Her pink hands are grasping a little blue vintage watering can and a wooden spoon, and with great purpose, she is making serious work of mixing the soil and water into an important and arguably world-changing stodge. The entire universe is right there in that moment for the little girl, mindfully pouring from the watering can onto the tar-coloured potion.
In the picture are all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that will develop this little nature and shape her world. These small things create new, mind expanding beginnings, seeds of ideas yet to come, and explorations yet to happen.
It reminds me of William Henry Davies’s poem ‘Leisure’, discussing ‘streams full of stars, like skies at night’. A stream can be full of stars, as long as you believe it to be so. The little girl did not doubt the power of her potion.
This dedication to wonder positively writes the handbook for personal development, and at that moment, it changes the world in unique ways few others would even notice. It may just be a distant pip-pip of a baby bird that has us exploring the bends and arches of a tree to peep at its owner, or splatting water to watch the fan of droplets escape from your palm.
Discovery and connection is a beautiful relationship, a dance between the senses and the imagination. This unique domino effect from one experience to another is abundant in children and constantly opening new doors for them, whirling and popping, unconsciously writing the words on the pages of future diaries. I know they say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ but I would definitely not dismiss the atoms of these moments.
We only need to summon a single good outdoor memory to recall our own wild adventures and endless personas where nothing was strange and everything, however alien to us, was accepted. Fearless explorers and legendary storywriters were born in this realm.
Without following that childlike thirst for discovery and newness, perhaps we would never have known the great work of David Attenborough or William Davies. As Henry David Theroux said in his book Walden: “All change is a miracle to contemplate, but it is a miracle taking place every instant.”
Perhaps we could all subscribe to the notion there is still so much to notice that is new, and not only get our kids outside more, but become explorers again ourselves.