We are sent to school early to "grow up," to "be serious," and if we don't let go of our childhood innocence, all too often the world tries to knock it out of us. A hundred years ago the American painter James McNeil Whistler encountered this attitude in his engineering class at West Point Military Academy. The students were instructed to draw a careful study of a bridge, and Whistler submitted a beautifully detailed picturesque stone arch with children fishing from its top. The lieutenant in charge ordered, "This is a military exercise. Get those children off the bridge." Whistler resubmitted the drawing with the two children now fishing from the side of the river. "I said get those children completely out of the picture," said the angry lieutenant. So Whistler's last version had the river, the bridge, and two small tombstones along its bank.
From After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield
James McNeil Whistler, unrepentant smartass.