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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Hello, Fall

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

-Stanley Horowitz

There is something unmistakably remarkable about fall. There is an indescribable feeling in the air. The way that days can be dreadfully warm, but nights are crisp and cool. The feeling of frigid air being sucked into your lungs is a drastic change from the heavy, humid air of summer. The way the air feels lighter. Fall is a time of change. Fall says goodbye to summer, but with the promise that summer will be back again next year. Fall is a kind change. A gentle transition from the dog-days of summer into the leaf-cluttered streets of fall. There is a unique change in the human senses upon the arrival of fall. There is a certain smell of nippy fall mornings. The characteristic crunch of leaves under your feet. Leaves scattered across the street like a collage created from the heavens. The yellow, red and orange leaves that linger over the horizon, presenting an entirely new palate of color to an otherwise colorless world. Comfort in fall is nothing more than a cozy sweatshirt and a cup of tea. Whatever it may be, fall welcomes change, it says goodbye to what was. For some it is a welcomed entity, offering a new spin on life and a new beginning. For others, fall is not welcomed. Fall can present nostalgia for what used to be. Whatever it may be, change in fall is inevitable, and for many freshmen in college, as well as many other students, I would whole-heartily believe that fall has presented an enormous change.

Coming into college I was someone who I would now see as being ignorant. I might call it immature, or maybe I was just like any other 17 or 18 year-old boy who was going away from home for the first time. I thought that I knew what it was like to be responsible. I was a legal adult. I knew everything, and because of a sheer unwillingness to accept anything other than my own beliefs, I convinced myself that I had already grown into adulthood.

I was dead wrong. I soon realized what it meant to live without my parents. It may not have been that it was what I wanted to do, but based on the circumstances, it was what I had to do. I began to make my own decisions, and early on, I often made the wrong decision. It was blatantly obvious that I had to regroup and make changes within myself, a task that many freshman find themselves doing.

It began with my study habits. Although I did an above average job of skating-by in high school, I noticed early on that it would no longer work. As the first few weeks of school passed, I saw a dramatic change in my study habits. I no longer waited until the night before an assignment was due to begin working on it. I put pride into each paper that I submitted. For the first time in my life, I decided that school work came before anything else. It could have been the realization that my parents are spending so much money on my education that caused me to become motivated. Then again, it could also have been that I was just comprehending that the work I was being given was for my own benefit. My study habits changed like the warm breeze of early fall changes to the stinging bitterness of a cold gust of wind in late fall.

I have seen a change in my friends as well. The people whom I thought would become my most loyal companions have slowly vanished into a sea of unfamiliar faces. Those who I thought I would never know became the people who I look to in times of need, the moments at college when I was at my weakest. With much remorse I have had to slowly pull away from people who were leading me in an undesirable direction, and subsequently surround myself with people who I could more easily relate with. Just as the leaves of summer vanish from the branches that once held them by late fall, so did many of my early friends. It may be saddening to some, but with each goodbye there awaits a new opportunity.

I would like to think that I have matured after the first 10 weeks of college. I would like to believe that I am the adult that I thought I was when I left for college. Maybe I have changed for the better and done some growing up, but maybe growing up a little is realizing that you still have a lot of growing to do as an individual. The person that believes that they have grown into the perfect version of themselves are those who have grown the least. It can be inferred that the wisest and most knowledgable mind is the mind that never stops listening; it never stops growing. Fall may have changed me, and it may have changed me for the better. It could have caused me to grow, but if there is anything that I can take away from this fall, it is the idea that just as fall continues to change, I will continue to change. I will never again believe that what I currently am is all that I should forever be. So like the fall breeze and the fall leaves, I will change.

What goes for me does not go for all. Maybe some of you out there have watched yourself change in much different ways. Maybe you have become more cynical. Have you become more trusting in the world? Some may have seen their normally stellar grades slip into disrepair. For some their choices may have become impaired by the longing to be a part of something that they could have found in so many different places. So before I say goodbye, I would like to ask just one simple question; how have you changed throughout fall?

Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn.

-Umberto Eco

Cheers,

Andy