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A Child’s View of Boundaries

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“And then what happened?”

I asked this question of my daughter when she was about five years old. She’d drawn a picture of a meadow, with a brook running through it. There were trees and bushes. And a horse! (BTW: Not to brag, but she’s all grown up, and a talented artist.)

She began to tell me her story. The horse had run away from the barn (no barn in the drawing) and when the owner saw the horse was missing, he was very sad (no owner in the drawing).

As a grownup I wondered about the horse’s backstory. It must have been interesting. Why had the horse run away? Had the owner forgotten to lock the barn door?

To a five year old the past didn’t matter. The story took off from here, where the action started, and it had a sense of continuance. Not once did I sense fear on the part of my little storyteller.

So I asked…

“And then what happened?”

I’m paraphrasing: “The horse ran through the meadow, into the brook and then he ran this way,” she said, and pointed off the page. But that wasn’t the end of her story.

“And then what happened?”

It didn’t really matter.

The point is this: she gave the past its due very quickly, and then moved on to the next part of the story.

The exciting part.

The going forward part.

A child’s imagination is infinite. And get this, the story keeps developing and growing as long as you let it take the path. Of course the path meanders, veers off here and there. It can be never-ending, too. Wink-wink.

Adults censor. We go backwards and talk about the backstory, as if we can change it. We can’t. The horse is out of the barn, so to speak. We know that.

Yet we go over and over it again. Why?

Who gives a crap how or why the horse got out of the barn? We want to know what happens next.

Do we find the horse? Does it run to another town? Does it find new friends? Does it decide the barn was too confining and wants freedom to roam?

The horse story is your story. And the possibilities are pretty much infinite…

if you follow your path.

However zig-zagged,

detoured

or chewed up your path is.

Take a lesson from a five year old and see your life off the page. And ask yourself: “And then what happened?”

Awesome Children
Awesome Lesson

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