Remembering Childhood Innocence

IMG_0655“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” – Patrick Rothfuss

It was today that I realized the unmistakable uniqueness that defines adolescence. I was waiting outside for a shuttle in front of a relatively empty Marshall’s clothing store on a solemn February day. A gentle mist fell from the sky, replenishing larger puddles that had formed from a previous night’s precipitation. A chilly winter-wind blew steadily from left to right, making my fingers numb and my cheeks a rosy red. I clutched an overpriced Venti Vanilla Blonde Roast from Starbucks in one hand, making a feeble attempt to warm my chilled body, and in my other hand I held an even more excessively priced black ink cartridge necessary for completing the weekends homework that I inadvertently waited until the last second to complete. It was the kind of day that your soul feels heavy, weighed down by the responsibility and new found problems of young adulthood. Feelings of home sickness mingling with the misty uncertainty of what the future will hold. Feelings as somber as the February winds, and maybe even more numbing.

It was precisely in this moment when I heard the closing of a car door followed by an uproar of laughter from a young boy. I found myself coming to out of my foggy thoughts only to see a young boy and his father coming toward me. The young boy, even on this most bitter of days, was giving off his own type of sunlight on this overcast day. He ran out, dragging his father since they were holding hands in the parking lot, jumping and parading in the soot filled puddles in the street in front of Marshall’s. With a gentle laugh from myself and a friendly, “How are you?” from the boy’s father, I felt an altering of my outlook for the day. I was no longer burdened by my tiresome and depressing thoughts and was uplifted by this unique sense of humanity that children so carelessly exhibit.

It was in this moment when I asked myself, “What happened to this innocence in myself, when did I become too old for that kind of lifestyle, did I ever become too old or did I just lose touch with my inner chid?” More importantly, I began to wonder if we ever become too old for childhood innocence or if we just neglect it and let the worries of our daily lives carry them away like ants in a cartoon show greedily carrying away a picnic basket. And maybe losing touch with our childhood innocence is greedy in itself too. Imagine a world of just childhood innocence. We would not be obsessed with materialistic possessions, rather we would be preoccupied with finding the biggest puddle to jump in, the biggest tree to climb and the building of the largest sand castle.

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It sounds crazy, and maybe I am a little crazy, but imagine how much better the world could, and really can be. If everyone let go of their responsibilities for just a few minutes a day, and truly relaxed and let personal and worldwide issues just go away for a few minutes a day, imagine what a better world we could obtain. Childhood innocence does not ever disappear, it is only hidden like that coin that Grandpa can always magically find behind your ear. With a little searching, you can recapture what you have lost in the shuffle of growing up. It never truly should be about growing up, it should be about staying young but attaining more wisdom so you can find greater enjoyment in your eternal youthfulness.

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Newtown: A New Hope

images-1From the ashes of terror sometimes rises a new hope for humanity. Sometimes it is through ruthless violence that the twine that holds all of humanity together is tightened. It is in sorrow that the masses are brought together by a common feeling felt among everyone; uncertainty, fear, and anxiety over where the future is heading. In this togetherness, a togetherness that I sometimes wish would never have to be observed, new ideas are formed for the bettering of tomorrow. Sadly, this change is not initiated until innocent lives are used as an unfortunate example.

images-2In the wake of Newtown, 20 desks with scented erasers and Ticonderoga #2 pencils will forever be empty. 20 beds forever yearning for the warmth of a body lying on top of them. 20 children’s lives that have been stripped prematurely from this Earth, removing all the hopes and aspirations these children may have had. Turning out the lights on futures that until that fateful day had shone so brightly.

Six. Six teachers who will not have the pleasure of another first day of school. Six families who lost a husband, a wife, daughter or son. Six lives lost attempting to preserve the lives of countless five and six-year olds. People destroyed for doing a job that they loved; mentoring the youth of America.

imagesOne. One man with a desire to cause pain. One idea that was carried out in an average, small town elementary school; a school not so different from the one that we all attended growing up. One man who will forever live in infamy, not to be judged in this world by myself, but to be judged in front of the great creator whose scale is easily tipped by the heaviness of unneeded and uncalled for sin.

But there is more that has come out of Newtown.

Newtown has left the nation debating the use of guns. It has become a battle between the constitution and the people. American’s have the right to bare arms, but what kind of arms? It is an argument that may cause change, and it also may not, but at the end of the day, this is now a major discussion. America is beginning to reexamine its’ own values which for some is a long needed endeavor, while others remain happy with the status quo. Some ask, “why do you need assault rifles?” Others then answer, “It’s not guns who kill people, people do.” It is a debate as old as time, but after Newtown, it is a debate that is going to be settled. By re-examining gun laws, we may ensure that another 26 families will never again have to mourn.

Newtown has also brought mental health issues to the forefront. It is a topic that has been looked over almost my entire life. Barely discussed in the news, and not spoken about in government very often either. Adam Lanza’s mother knew her son was ill, but she had nowhere to turn. Having a mentally disturbed son could have the propensity of ostracizing them from the neighborhood. Newtown left America pondering the ways in which we view mental illness. We have begun re-examining the stigma we have often attached to it.

The role of the media has also been called into question. As always, with these kinds of events, the media is chastised for seemingly appearing to have no sympathy for victim’s families. But Newtown also revealed something else; the media’s yearning for getting the information first despite the possibility of this information being incorrect sometimes. The media continually speculated and put information on air or in print that just was not correct. The balance of timeliness and correctness has become a reason for the media to look at itself and decide which is more important and how to better balance the two.

There is no way of bringing back any of the lives lost in Newtown. Death draws a firm line in which mortality constantly walks along. Once this line is crossed, however, death rarely releases its’ cruel grasp. These lives live on though in this tide of possible social change. As society begins to look more closely at itself each lost life becomes more alive. With each new law or act of awareness, a life is symbolically brought back into our world. These lives live on as long as we ensure that their demise was not for nothing; that their loss of life will be the basis for saving others. Nothing will ever make it right, but we would be doing them a disservice if we neglect to initiate change in the memory of those lives gone, but never forgotten.