Chapter 14: I Am Ready, If You Are
So try to break the fixations of your external life. Don’t be conscious of your age all the time. Never say to your son, “I know, because my age is such and such.” Age has nothing to do with knowing. Don’t behave with children as if there exists a gap of fifty years between you and them. Instead, be a friend to them.
A seventy-year-old woman has written a book. It’s a small book containing the story of her experiment of befriending a five-year-old child. It’s a difficult thing to do, not a simple matter. It is easy to be a father, a mother, a brother, a guru of a five-year-old child; to be a friend is very difficult. No mother, no father is ever able to be friends with their children.
We will have transformed the entire world the day parents become friends of their children. It will be altogether a different world, it will no longer be so hideous and ugly. But they don’t extend that hand of friendship. So this woman of seventy really carried out an amazing experiment. She befriended the child when he was three. For the next two years she maintained her friendship with him in every possible way. It would be good to understand her attitude toward this friendship. It will be easy for such a woman to return to her past memories.
This woman of seventy would go to the seashore with that child who happens to be her friend. The child would run, pick up stones and pebbles, and the woman would do the same. How else could she have broken the tremendous age barrier between her and the child? Her picking up the stones and pebbles along with the child was not just to advance her friendship with him. She really tried to see the stones and pebbles with the same joy and delight as the child.
She would look into the child’s eyes, and watch her own eyes too. She would look at his hands picking up a shining pebble, and she would look at her own hands doing the same act. She would watch how thrilled the child was, how he was looking at those pebbles with such wonder and excitement in his eyes. She tried to look the same way - becoming a child too.
She ran with him to catch the foam as the waves lapped on the shore. The child would run after butterflies, and she would run with him too. The child once came up to her in the middle of the night and said, “Let’s go out. The crickets chirping sound so beautiful.” She did not say, “Go to sleep now. This is no time to go out.” She immediately went along with him. The child walked, step by step, softly so as not to disturb the crickets. The woman followed him exactly the same way.
Two years of this friendship brought exceptional results. The woman writes, “I forgot I was seventy years old. What I did not know at the age of five, I came to know at the age of seventy by becoming a five-year-old child. The whole world turned into a wonderland, a fairyland for me. I indeed ran, picked up rocks, chased butterflies. All the differences of age between the child and me disappeared. He talked to me as he would talk to any other child. I also talked to him the same way a child talks to another child.”