THE BLOG
28/11/2014 07:43 GMT | Updated 27/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Being a Kid Is For Life (Not Just For Christmas)

Christmas is a time for kids. Kids in the literal, vertically-challenged sense and kids in the metaphorical, inner child sense - for us Big Kids.

Christmas is a time for kids. Kids in the literal, vertically-challenged sense and kids in the metaphorical, inner child sense - for us Big Kids.

However you feel about the autumn onset of Chrimbo commercialism, this year's John Lewis ad or (perhaps ironically) the Nativity story itself, at some point in the seasonal build-up the heady anticipation of baubles, crackers and Claus is enough to tip all but the most Scrooged amongst us into a state of childlike glee.

And the fact is, a state of childlike glee is a rather enjoyable place from which to approach life.

Why?

Two reasons.

Firstly, for kids, every day is an adventure and each moment holds special significance.

Secondly, there's no sense of rush. There's just way too much going on now to be thinking about next. The "hurry, hurry" mentality with which western culture tends to imbue us has no bearing on the life of a five-year-old.

My favourite illustration of the differing experiences of child and adult is this tale of a father taking his young son on a walk to the park:

...Progress has not been swift. For the life of Dad, he can't stop Son getting waylaid by every other tree or twig. Such everyday artifacts hold inordinate levels of fascination for this particular tot.

Dad is getting edgy. They only have a certain time allocation for this walk, before hastening off to see Granny for tea. This is serious stuff.

A squirrel makes an appearance. Dad draws close to despair.

But then, suddenly, inexplicably, light dawns. Dad sees that, for Son, it's not about "getting to the park" at all. It's about soaking up each moment along the way. For want of a better cliche, "it's all about the journey".

In this moment, Dad understands that whether or not they reach their final destination doesn't matter all that much; if they're enjoying every twig they'll have a whale of a time anyway...

I like that. A moment of epiphany, all thanks to a couple of twigs.

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"It's behind you..." The fun's right there - you just need to notice.

Like Dad, we too can let go and chill out a bit about end goals. We can re-learn to relish each moment.

That doesn't mean every moment of life has to be viewed as super awesome and totally swell. Sometimes it may contain tricksy episodes, but if we can live those just as vividly they'll enhance the richness of the ride.

The fact is, life is fuller, fun-ner and more fantastic when viewed through childlike eyes.

Not to mention longer.

Think back to the yawning stretches of bliss that were school summer holidays. Weeks felt like years to our smaller, shorter selves, and by the end of the break we felt we'd lived through lifetimes.

At each point in time, nothing was more important than that ice cream we were currently clutching, nothing more delightful than that puddle in which we were currently jumping (English summer), nothing more enticing than the seagull we were supposed not to be chasing.

Kids, as a rule, don't race through each day of their holiday just to tick it off the list and get on to the next one. Except for the odd occasion when the next day holds dizzying levels of excitement (think Christmas Eve or pre-birthday hysteria), they're pretty good at living each moment as it comes.

And summer, like life in general, seems a lot longer when you're not fast-forwarding your way through it.

After all, if we see the "hurry" philosophy through to its logical progression, what exactly is that ultimate end point of life towards which we are hurrying?

Hmm.

Perhaps worth bearing in mind when we find ourselves hooked by that "go faster" high...

But no need to get morbid. Life is long and it's for living.

As an actor, I spend a fair bit of my life engaging in make-believe, and I can vouch with relative confidence that getting to connect with the child within is one of the main attractions for most in my profession.

But my interest in the inner child is furthered by what I've observed in the performances of those actors who captivate me most.

In the raw emotion of Amy Adams, the gamine charm of Audrey Hepburn, the heart-felt honesty of Olivia Coleman or Judi Dench's "speaking" eyes, we are gifted a window into the purest inner depths of an adult person who can communicate to us their most vulnerable, truly authentic child-selves.

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Actors.

If you don't pretend to be other people for a living (or even if you do, who am I kidding?), it might be fun to actively check in with your inner youngster on a regular basis. This could involve revisiting cartoon classics, or settling in with a kids' movie of choice. It might mean cracking out a cartwheel on the walk home from work, or breaking out into spontaneous disco in your living room. Or you could come over all creative. Apparently colouring in is a hot new trend in France, with adult individuals reporting reduced stress levels and a greater sense of well-being, simply from breaking out the crayons.

And as for the here and now, just taking time each day to appreciate the sheer marvel of all that is around us, from the winter elements to the craziness and chaos of Christmas, might just be the best lesson we can learn this festive season.

So, raise your gaze, soak up the spectacle, and give thanks for the twigs.

Oh, and (with apologies):

Being a kid is for life, not just for Christmas...

Katherine Press is an actress, writer and self-help junkie. Her acting credits include Stephen Poliakoff's acclaimed BBC/Starz series Dancing on the Edge, Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger and Ophelia in Trevor Nunn's production of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (West End). She can next be seen as the guest lead "Elise" in Foyle's War Series 9 (Episode 3: "Elise"), due to screen in early 2015.

www.katherinepress.co.uk

This post was first published in her Actor In Search Of A Life blog.