Our children are running a race that doesn’t exist

Post · May 25, 2020 ·

Children are very good at being in the moment. Adults, usually, are not.

Not because we don’t want to be, but because we don’t really know how to anymore.

From a young age we’re continually asked to shift on from moments we’re fully present in because there’s always something else to do. To work towards. To tick off. The next subject, project, worksheet, group activity, lesson, bell, lunch time, assembly, class, test, homework assignment…all week, every week.

The model built for our children is based entirely on the concept of a start, a finish, and continual progression against benchmarks in between. Children rarely get the chance to slow down. They cannot simply choose to stop. Even a gap year for an 18-year-old at the end of 13 years of schooling is scrutinised. They would, after all, find themselves falling behind their peers.

But races have more losers than winners. That’s just the way they work. And while we’re off chasing abstract things like ‘success’, we run past everything that’s real – the people, places, and moments in our lives that would love to have us pause just that little bit longer.

By the end of it, the beautiful, natural art of being present is all but lost. In its place: a continual, nagging belief that we need to keep busily working towards a distant finish line.

Some of our children are lining up to start the race right now. Others have already been running in it for years.

What a powerful, life-changing thing it would be to tell them it doesn’t actually exist.

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