In some ways we are wiser as children than we are as adults. When we were children, we knew what we wanted. From moment to moment, we knew what mattered to us. Our pain was more intense, and our joy more total and glorious, and everything in between was new and curious. As we grew up, we started having to consider so many other things: how it looks to others, how we will be judged, whether our value or the value of a thing we love will be enough, and whether we might be making a mistake.

As we continued to adapt to the adult world, we learned to fear failing so much that now all too often we decide not to try. All of life's wonders are still available to us now even more than before, but that innocent kind of faith is gone. So we hang back, clumping with the others, unsure. Even when the prize is very close by, we only timidly reach for it.

For many of us, getting through those early, dependent years of childhood was very confusing, painful, and even abusive. Our sense of Self has taken a beating and will be a long time healing. We enter into adulthood with a lot or unlearning to do.

It is the primary work of life, to discover. That is our essential assignment here - to experience, to learn, and to grow always more complete, more complex. But if we are to do that without being overwhelmed, we must also become more simple.

It's as if in sleep we received the secrets of the universe, and then on waking, forgot. And so we begin again in ignorance, with a vision that is cloudy and unclear. Failing often and fearing to fail again, we hold our spirit almost rigid, trying to get things right. And yet, still there is the vague remembrance of the dream: that somewhere there was truth, and order, and instead of a struggle, life played itself out like the dance children dance in the summer rain. The remembrance that once we knew with a perfect knowing, and the universe unfolded rhythmically and spontaneously all its secrets in perfect order, complexity, and simplicity. It was all there; it had always been there.

We knew with perfect knowing before we were born, but we wake and forget. It is the task of life to learn again.

In this world, many of us are drowning in Too Much. Too much stress, too many possessions, too much entertainment, too much work and too much multi-tasking. Is there really nothing important enough to actually stop and look at? And focus on, one thing at a time? With all our stuff, and constant striving for more and better stuff, we have very little of real Substance, of real value.

It's so easy to lose ourselves in complexity, to lose the pattern and form of our existence, and hurry around busy but without purpose. Not seeing because we do not look, and not hearing because we do not listen, we search for the right path without realizing that every path is ours. It is not a predetermined path, it is our own will and thought, that take us were we go. And more than any other time in history, many of us feel as if we are "going it alone."

It is impossible not to be connected to God, the universe, and each other. Separation is an illusion, but loneliness is real, when we choose separateness. We ARE connected; we are intimately infused, each into each, and all into all, whether we are aware of it or not. Each human mind is intimately directly connected to the Mind of God, and the Mind of God is connected to every human mind; it has never been otherwise. But we wake and forget.

A child listens to the sounds of a summer night, and hears the music of the universe. The songs of insects, the winds, the creaking of branches and whispering of leaves, and all the little familiar noises of the quiet house. All of the sounds, now together, then one by one. The crickets trace their madrigals on the lines and spaces of the dark, vast, quietness. The child closes her eyes and sees the colors and patterns of the sounds, winding and unwinding in her willing mind. The father in the same house worries about paying the bills and hears nothing at all, and sees nothing at all but empty darkness.

You could say that the child is innocent of worries, but adults cannot be. No, we cannot be innocent of our complexity, but we can choose what we give our best time and thoughts to. So I choose to put away my work and worry for an hour or so at twilight, to sit in the warm dark aliveness and just listen. When I do, I can still hear the music.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets