Friday, November 18, 2011

Peek-A-Boo: A Game for Adults?

Perhaps it's a symptom of spending too much time with babies recently, but I have become fascinated with the game of Peek-A-Boo. It's a fairly simple concept... you cover your face or turn the other direction, then turn back and PEEK-A-BOO! There you are! My son never seems to tire of this game, and I love hearing the sound of his laughter and seeing his smile. You might be tempted to think that this is just a game for infants, but as I thought more deeply about it, I realized that there is more to this game than meets the eye.

First of all, the reason why it's so interesting to infants is that they have yet to acquire the skill of "object permanence" (learned that one in my child study classes). This is the concept that even when we can't see something, it still exists in our world. Infants just don't have that ability. If it's out of sight, it's out of their world. So they really are seeing things at every moment as though they're seeing them for the very first time. What a wonderful thing to be able to experience life in such a vivid and present way. It seems difficult to me sometimes to refresh my images of familiar things, places, people, etc. and to see them again as they truly are without any preconceptions or outdated mental constructions.

Peek-A-Boo has also taken on another meaning to me. I realize that the way that I perceive the world is a direct reflection of my own mental state and how I am being in the world. There really is no such thing as separating the object from the person who is seeing the object. Some people look at a sunset or a baby or the ocean and say... oh yeah, I've seen that a million times before. But are they really seeing it? Or is their perception being clouded by past experience? I find that when I am most present, I see myself being reflected back at me regardless of where I look. In my son's eyes (Peek-A-Boo), in the mountains I hike through (Peek-A-Boo) in the music I create (Peek-A-Boo), it is all connected and all an indication at its deepest levels of God, or nature or life itself.

When I am not being present, that is also reflected back to me in the form of unhappiness, disconnection from family and loved ones and a lack of creativity and passion in my work. That is also a peek-a-boo moment... There I am! Now it's up to me to make the adjustments to bring myself back into the present. It's not always easy, but exercise, music, meditation and time out in nature usually work for me. I think if we all played peek-a-boo with ourselves and those closest to us more often, we might actually benefit a great deal. Sometimes the most worthwhile games are deceptively simple.

In song,