“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.
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.