The childlike power of absurdity

Image: Evan Kirby

When kids begin to develop and grow into the world, they fundamentally see the world as the insane, nonsensical circus act that it is.

It’s weird. And they know it’s weird.

My daughter looks at me with an innocent gaze of befuddlement when she watches me stumble through even the simplest of her questions. Often.

I remember being a kid, looking at the way adults live, and thinking — why the hell do they do things like this?

Why do they work jobs they always complain about?
Why do they cuss and drink and smoke, but tell us not to?
Why do they stress out so much?
Why do they listen to such horrible music?
Why do they become so… Lame?

As we grow older, we build a structure around our bewilderment so that it makes sense. We rationalize everything away and our questioning stops. It becomes exhausting and we realize our energies are best spent on fitting into this box we’ve constructed for ourselves and the world as quickly as possible so that we don’t fall too far behind our friends and neighbors.

They now have the car. And the job. And the girlfriend. And we don’t. Better just submit so we can catch up…

But soon enough, we get bored. Our midlife crisis hits. And a small part of ourselves driven by this childlike insatiable curiosity is still kicking and screaming inside — starving for attention. It won’t be silenced any longer.

And so either we cram it down again under purchases of Corvettes and second or third spouses… Or we bring attention to it, naturally.

This is the pull towards a more childlike existence (not childish — childlike).

It doesn’t have to get to this point.

We don’t have to wait until we’re on the verge of retirement while gaping at ontological collapse to recapture the color of this beautifully strange life. We can do it now. Starting today. And all we have to do is shift our consciousness towards this…

Begin seeing the world as strange again.

Life gives you plenty of opportunities to do this.

Lay down the need to rationalize the weirdness of the world. Let it be weird. Instead of trying to figure it out and make it logical, sit with that weirdness. Smile at it. Laugh at it. Write about it. Talk to your friends about it. Celebrate it.

Don’t let it overwhelm you. Let it astonish you.

Consciously go deep into the absurdity of the world. Notice that childish grin return to your face. And let it light your way.


Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people deepen their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way.

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