It seems that somewhere along our journey we call "life" we slowly drift away from being childlike. I do not know where it happens and when we do it but we often stop playing and become much more serious. Life starts hitting us and opens us up to become bitter, resentful, and jaded. We stop dreaming so much and instead start demanding. We stop playing.
In essence, we start losing sight of a our childhood and childhood ways and become an orphan. We learn to adapt by living alone yet with people around. We learn to be self-sufficient and keep our deep emotions hidden. We learn to exchange play for surviving. In so many ways, therapy is about finding the inner child in each of us. Therapy's purpose is about helping each of us find that orphaned boy or girl that we left behind and reconnecting with what Richard Rohr calls our "soul child". I am reminded of the following poem called "The Little Orphan" by Edgar Albert Guest which speaks so deeply about this:
The crowded street his playground is, a patch of blue his sky;
A puddle in a vacant lot his sea where ships pass by:
Poor little orphan boy of five, the city smoke and grime
Taint every cooling breeze he gets throughout the summer time;
And he is just as your boy is, a child who loves to play,
Except that he is drawn and white and cannot get away.
And he would like the open fields, for often in his dreams
The angels kind bear him off to where are pleasant streams,
Where he may sail a splendid boat, sometimes he flies a kite,
Or romps beside a shepherd dog and shouts with all his might;
But when the dawn of morning comes he wakes to find once more
That what he thought were sun-kissed hills are rags upon the floor.
Then through the hot and sultry day he plays at “make-pretend,”
The alley is a sandy beach where all the rich folks send
Their little boys and girls to play, a barrel is his boat,
But, oh, the air is tifling and the dust fills up his throat;
And though he tries so very hard to play, somehow it seems
He never gets such wondrous joys as angels bring in dreams.
Poor little orphan boy of five, except that he is pale,
With sunken cheeks and hollow eyes and very wan and frail,
Just like that little boy of yours, with same desire to play,
Fond of the open fields and skies, he’s built the self-same way;
But kept by fate and circumstance away from shady streams,
His only joy comes when he sleeps and angels bring him dreams.
"The Little Orphan" by Edgar Albert Guest