life as i know it

"...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -Sylvia Plath

Monday, November 05, 2007

gift of childhood innocence

At what age do we lose our blissful childhood innocence? When does the world cease to be one giant playground? When do simple pleasures such as kicking up piles of crinkled autumn leaves stop being seen as simple pleasures?

I think about the kids I know and I recognize how different life experiences can lead to a premature loss of innocence. But then I think back to my own childhood and I have no recollection of any particular experience that stopped the steps of my innocence mid-stride. I cannot remember why it happened, and yet I also cannot remember a time when the world was nothing more than a playground for me. I remember my childhood, but my memories are filled with feelings of sadness and regret for the little girl who spent her hours worrying about being away from her parents and living in a state of chronic fear. Fear was the encompassing feeling I remember from childhood and it has continued to haunt me all these years. I can tell you all the specific fears, those vast and myriad fears, and yet I still cannot tell you from where or what or who they originated.

A few simple pleasures this weekend brought about these thoughts. Our friends that live across the street have the two most adorable little girls ever. Their daddy brought them over Friday evening and while the guys hung out, I played with the girls. Inspecting the autumn leaves that adorned the ground, the oldest delighted in naming the colors in her baby 3-year-old voice…brown, yellow, red. It became a game of collection, gathering the leaves in their tiny fists and crumbling the dead ones, then pushing them down a drain in the sidewalk. A baby’s 2-year-old “bye bye’s” to the leaves as they vanished from sight. The tree branches, 4 or 5 feet above the ground were pronounced “too high”, so I took turns flying the girls up to the branches where they would shake the leaves in the hope of helping Nature adorn the ground with more yellow and red treasures. So simple and yet the girls were mesmerized with this activity for a near half-hour. It was the first time I remember feeling such a powerful sense of freedom and pure joy in quite a while. No thoughts or worries, only pure laughter and twinkling smiles and a heart filled to the brim as tiny arms clasped around my neck and baby-soft faces snuggled next to mine. Literally, moments of pure bliss.

In another month, I will get to spend an entire weekend with my darling niece for her first birthday. In the time since I last saw her, she has learned the art of crawling and grown her first baby teeth. She babbles on the phone to me now, that nonsense jibberish of baby talk that just lights up my heart. And when I tell her how much her Aunt Tara loves her, I can hear her laughs and imagine her own little world of childhood innocence. But my heart aches that I am so far away, that I cannot hold her and feel her tiny arms around my neck or her baby-soft face snuggled next to mine. I am counting the days until I see her in all her sweet innocence, and her mama, my soul mate and eternal best friend.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to many more afternoons and evenings with the two precious baby girls across the street. And I am learning more and more each day the true beauty and happiness that children bring to the world. The world may not always be a pretty and peaceful place, but all of these darling babies bring more happiness to my heart than they will ever know. That sense of internal fulfillment is a feeling I am only just coming to truly know, but the lessons I am learning are indeed a life-long gift.


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