What is “beauty?”
What is “normal?”
The dictionary definition of normal is of standard type; the standard or average.
Last Sunday while attending College Wesleyan Church, Steve DeNeff posed an interesting question towards our children and normalcy.
“Do we sometimes tell our children they’re special when they’re really normal? Or do we ever tell our children they’re normal when they’re actually very special.”
You see, childhood and adolescence can pose a myriad of tough decisions….for parents. Kids have a lot of hard decisions to make also, but parents are faced with the massive decision of how we teach our kids to see the world.
Do we guide our kids toward beauty or toward normal and average?
Josh Bell, a violinist, is considered one of the greatest musicians in the world. In 2007, alongside The Washington Post, Bell performed an interesting experiment in a DC subway. You can read the entire article here.
The experiment was to see how many people during the morning rush hour would notice a world-class musician playing in the subway. Here’s a fast-forwarded youtube video of the 43-minute event:
In short, the amount of people that stopped was astronomically less than they predicted. All races, ages, and genders were equal in their inability to recognize the beauty they were being allowed to experience. Only one small demographic stood out. The Washington Post article states, “Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”
Beauty within childhood is an amazingly, delicate element of life. I see it in my son’s eyes when he conquers the simple yet amazing feat of putting words onto paper. I see it in my 1 year old’s beautiful and mischievous grin when she intimately explores every piece of dirt, rock, or bug that she finds. She sees beauty everywhere. Because it IS everywhere.
But we have conditioned ourselves to see the average, the normal. And we are predisposed to take this beauty away from our children and scoot them away from the world-class violinist they can hear and we can’t recognize.
I want to see the beauty my children see. I want to have the faith that they have. I want this world and this life to never become normal or average to them or me. And I most assuredly never want to encourage them to be normal or average.
So the next time your little girl wants to stop and look at that flower while you’re walking, take the time to marvel with her. The next time your son wants to make cities out of mud, become an architect with him. Encourage them to always see the beauty and never be average.
**A quick sidenote….the violin Josh Bell was using was his own Stradivarius and is valued at over $3 million. Another instance of beauty not recognized.