If you’re reading this to find out about some elf babies that have been going around turning parking meters into Skittles dispensers, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I promise you won’t leave disappointed. I recently realized something that I’ve known all my life but never really thought about. In fact, we all know this and we rarely acknowledge it in words. And well, that’s what Chad Vice is for – so here goes:
This realization has everything to do with my walking route to school. I walk a few variations of the same path everyday, twice a day. I see a lot of the same people and in many ways this is where I do most of my learning. Now before I explain, there’s two things you should know: First, this realization was accentuated by the fact that in Korea sometimes it can be considered impolite to look someone you don’t know in the eye. If you smile, furthermore, it can even be seen as arrogant or rude. But for ten months no one told me this, and everyday I was perplexed by a few people who would smile back and a few others whom I had seen everyday for almost a year and had never even made eye contact with. And the second thing you should know is that my high school is right next to a preschool and elementary school. So that means I see lines of tiny little kids walking with their bouncing matching yellow backpacks. They skip, giggle, hold hands, and smile – all things most of us adults have long since given up doing on our morning commutes.
Then one day, I was walking along the sidewalk and in front of me was a mother walking her preschoolers to school and holding her giggling baby against her chest. I looked at the baby and couldn’t help but smiling from ear to ear. Then the mother looked up at me, directly in the eyes, and smiled her best. It was such a beautiful moment. Then, a few steps later, I realized the true magic of babies: they have something within them that we all remember, have lost, and still long for. Their mere presence transcends cultural and social boundaries and brightens everyones lives around them. Now of course, this doesn’t seem true when they are pooping themselves or screaming crying, but have you even gone into three different stores to find a bathroom, to no luck, and just WISHED that you had a diaper on? Or have you ever been having such a bad day that you WISHED you could plop on the ground, scream and cry, and wait for some giant to come over and pat you on the back until you stopped? Even in those moments when babies seem to be annoying, they still represent something that we all long for.
THE TAKEAWAY:Babies are what unite us. They are symbols of life, innocence, love, and humanity.
They remind us that the world is alive, we all came from the same place, and that love can exist in the world. But somewhere between putting on big kid underwear and getting our driver’s license, we learn to forget these things. We accept “the way things are done” by everyone around us and adapt. Well, living in a culture so different from my own has showed me that I don’t have to do that anymore, even with my own culture. I don’t have to wear the coolest clothes or put my hair a certain way. I don’t have to have a Facebook or hold back from telling my friends I love them. I’ve learned that I can do things absolutely however I want and I hope you can do the same. All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if you see me sitting in the cereal isle someday screaming my head off – don’t judge me– just smile and come pat me on the back. Remember, that innocence is still there in all of us. 😉