Confession time: when I was little, I loved being the first person to use a new peanut butter jar.
I’m not completely sure why I got so much pleasure out of the “soft stuff” on the top of the peanut butter jar. There was something about the perfect smoothness of the peanut butter, completely unmarred by knife marks and swirls, that delighted me.
Even as a young adult—up until I (tragically) developed a peanut allergy a few years out of high school—it still gave me a little thrill every time I was the first person to use the peanut butter jar. I have no idea why.
Who were you as a child?
I’m sure all of us can remember something random that filled us with delight as children. Not all of mine are as bizarre as being the first person to use the peanut butter jar. I also liked—and still enjoy—drinking tea out of china cups and wearing twirly dresses.
Here’s the thing: I still like these things today. And I’m pretty sure most of you still like the same, random stuff you loved as a child—even if you would never admit it.
There’s a little poem by William Wordsworth that describes this concept perfectly:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
–William Wordsworth, 1807
“The Child is father of the Man”
Who you are as a child shapes who you will become as an adult. This applies to relatively insignificant things, like enjoying the smooth top of a new jar peanut butter, but it also applies to bigger things, more important trends in our lives.
I’ve been captivated by the piano since I was tiny. Today, I play frequently and still get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I loved to write when I was a child, and now I’m planning to become a writer full time.
Poets often use ordinary examples to illustrate a bigger, more important concept. Wordsworth, the poet here, uses a simple thing that delights him—a rainbow—to make an observation about human nature.
“Bound each to each…”
The reason it’s important that we often like the same things throughout our lives—the reason it’s something that matters—is because it is our quirks that give our lives a sense of coherence.
From my early childhood until now, almost everything about my life has changed. I live in a different country now. I look at the world differently in many ways.
But the little things that delighted me when I was little still bring me pleasure today. They are a thread running through my life, tying all the pieces together. When Wordsworth says,
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety
he means that in having the same quirks from childhood through adulthood, the days of his life are united into a cohesive whole rather than existing as separate, unconnected segments.
I have quirks. You have quirks. They’re what makes us special. It’s okay to delight in something totally random just because you do. There’s a danger in trying to distance yourself from your quirks just because they seem weird to you. It creates a disconnect between the “you” you present to the world and who you really are.
We sometimes go to great lengths to hide what makes us unique. Why? Isn’t life so much more interesting when we all have weird little quirks? Without our little idiosyncrasies, we’re all just bland carbon copies of the same basic pattern.
And who wants to live in a world like that?
Be you. Quirks and all. And I’ll try to do the same.
Confession time! What quirks have you had since you were little?