The other evening I walked by a kid in shorts and a t-shirt crouched down in the mess of road construction on Main Street. What the heck? He was about seven-years-old or so, his hands on a thick stake with a blue triangle flag hammered into the bulldozed dirt.
The little boy was so serious that I stopped and looked back at him. Evening, the workers had long since quit, and no one was around except for cars and pickups on the road. The boy snapped off the stake, immediately put it over his shoulder, and walked down the road quickly.
Slow-thinking perhaps, I didn’t realize what the child was up to, until I saw his yet-serious face glance over his shoulder at the blue flag, and then his fingers came back and brushed the triangle, lightly, without lessening his speed.
The kid was working, doing serious stuff, holding up the veritable imaginative life of the village. So intent he never smiled, he hurried across the street and disappeared around a building, out of my sight.
When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions – such as merit, such as past, present, and future – our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.
– Peter Matthiessen