He has the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen, Perhaps that’s because he is as small as he is, but sometimes, I catch myself looking at those tiny eyes and the big, dark and perfectly curved eyelashes, I have to catch my breath.
Yet he is unaware of me. He knows nothing at all of my amazement at him. Completely involved with whatever it is he’s doing (usually cars!), he not only doesn’t seem me, but he is as distant from me as if, well, I wasn’t there at all!
You see that often in kids, but rarely in adults. My sister was such a reader that she would curl up in a chair in our living room and be absolutely oblivious to the three boys playing around her. It was as if we weren’t there either. We all do it sometimes. We get involved in our inner world and can become so entranced in something that we pay no attention to what’s going on around us.
But in him, it is magical, for he is learning. I swear I can see the neurones forming in his brain, quite unconsciously, of course. His marvellous body is creating a consciousness for him, all of its own and, besides that, making him more complex, more original and much more able to cope with the world that is being prepared for him.
Even if he’s watching a TV programme, it will happen. I will have him sitting on my lap and once engaged, he is oblivious. Oh, if we as adults could only switch that on at will! It would make us so much more productive. Yet we are, so often, easily distracted.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this ‘Flow’ and regards this as one of the most valuable assets a person has. Yet in my grandson, he is able to get there, in just moments, once you put a box of toy cars in front of him.
What is he thinking? Is he actually playing out scenarios in his head about what the cars are doing? Is he creating worlds for himself that only he will ever have access to and even for him, only for a while, maybe moments, certainly not years, before it slips into his subconscious forever hidden to him and never even an option for us? Perhaps I can ask him.
For we only know even a sliver of our own minds, let alone the mind of anyone else. We recall so little of our experiences even for ourselves and yet, we have created a perspective on life that is completely unique to ourselves, not least because even the slightly different way we see the world from our own point of view, is infinitely different from the view of anyone else.
For my grandson, kneeling there at the red table, playing with some of his favourite cars, his world will never be my world. It will be his alone and over time will, in the main disappear to him even. So that his life is made up of conscious thinking coming via an unconscious foundation.
By appreciating that, we can surely understand that our world creates within us certain decisions and actions. Even seeing a similar scenario will inevitably mean that someone else will see it differently and respond differently too.
Mr T is still playing and his eyelashes are still dark and rounded and perfect. I love to see him this way and I’d love it to always be for him. Yet he will grow and face new challenges throughout his life.
I hope, that for this boy, there will always be times where he is able to lose himself utterly in his world; in his imagination and find that soothing and unimaginably joyful.
For surely, that’s what we are here for.
I give him a little hug, but he doesn’t notice, not consciously at least.