Have you ever observed how small children continually experiment, albeit at a rudimentary level? They do so quite naturally. It’s instinctive behaviour so that they can make sense of life and their place in it.
As they do, they discover what’s real and what isn’t, what tastes good and what doesn’t, what hurts, burns and pricks and generally what they like and don’t like.
They don’t become attached to outcomes; they simply learn and move on, always ready to continue expanding.
As a school going kid, Science was not one of my favourite subjects except for those lessons that involved experiments. I never missed one. What a lot of fun we had – chemical volcanic eruptions, stink bombs and bending water just to name a few I still remember well.
We asked endless “what if …” questions, and we were always filled with excited anticipation and hope that we would through trial and error create something unexpected and magnificent.
We often did and when we didn’t, we never thought we had failed. We simply went back to the drawing board to work on what was next. Our ideas and enthusiasm was boundless.
Experiments either work or they don’t but they are never ‘wrong’. They simply create a need for more wondrous exploration.
Somehow as adults we forget about the joy that is experimenting. We want to know whether something will work out before we do it. We want to know all the details before we make a move. We fear that the outcome will be ‘wrong’ or that we will be judged by others if we don’t succeed. We have given up the freedom that comes from having faith that no matter what happens; everything will work out in the end.
One person who knew we should never stop experimenting was Ralf Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He said:
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”
What a fantastic reminder to us that all our learning about ourselves is nothing but a series of ongoing experiments. There is no final conclusion, only developments along the way that leads us to the next experiment. There is no need to “get anywhere”.
As we learn about what we don’t like and don’t want in our lives, we immediately know what do like and do want. Then our job is to focus on what we want and through focused thought, create the reality we desire. There will always be more of what we don’t like since this contrast exists to help us expand further. This contrast is nothing more than our next experiment.
In what way do you live your life as an ongoing experiment?
Do you think it’s possible for us as adults to experiment more like kids do?
Can we un-learn the behaviour that keeps us from doing this?
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