The heart of a child

Three playful girls in the ruins of a temple, Battambang Province, Cambodia (Oct 2012)

Three playful girls in the ruins of a temple, Battambang Province, Cambodia (Oct 2012)

Looking at my travel photos for probably the 100th time, I stopped on this one… I met these three beautiful girls in the quiet ruins of a temple located in a remote village of Battambang Province in northwestern Cambodia. They were shying away from another tourist trying to photograph them. And who could blame them. Really, what was in it for these three little girls? A pretend smile to a stranger? A photo never to be seen?

Despite this, I could see they were curious, following me discreetly, hiding behind broken walls. So I decided to be a bit playful. I smiled at them, said hello and struck a pose. Quickly, smiles appeared across all three faces, like sun rays through a cloud. And they started imitating my pose. I gave them another funny one to do, took a photo and invited them to look at it with me. They absolutely loved it! They were so eager to strike the next pose, the next one and the next one to look at on the small screen.

You know the laughter of a child? So genuine, contagious, lightening. Straight from the heart! There were three of them. A bit of play had uncovered their true nature.

It was such a special moment and I only wish I could have printed some of these photos to leave with them.

As adults, we sometimes forget that childish giggle hiding inside. Is it from fear of losing face? Not being taken seriously? After all, isn’t adulthood the time to get settled and serious about life?

Anecdotally (or not!), we hear a lot about workplaces with playful cultures (and serious intent, that is!) which are coming out as great success stories. It seems like there is much to be said about bringing back a touch of childhood fun and games into our lives.

So come on, strike a pose, tell a joke, play a prank… be silly! Didn’t Emerson write: “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” I think he was onto something…

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