This I Believe

Jason - Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

It is my belief that in our youthful ambitions and aspirations we are most happy. Nostalgia never disappoints. Even the person with the darkest past can look back and see even a glimmer of light. It’s sitting in the corner of an old community room as a child playing contently; surrounded by family. We’re safe there, shadowed from life’s adversities.

My cousin and I used to play dress-up. I’ll be the first to admit that. I owned a Batman cape and a Superman shirt. Together we combined to create an unstoppable heroic force, battling enemies, saving lives, and, of course, always getting the girl. Our parents knew little of our identities, which made us feel all the more authentic. We were invincible in those costumes. No one could touch us. Problems didn’t exist. Every evening ended with us saving the world. But little did we know we weren’t saving anyone at all, anyone but ourselves, sitting in the corner, playing contently. Sometimes innocence is more powerful than invincibility.

I specifically remember the last time I ever wore the Superman shirt. My cousin was over at my house and my aunt had just come to pick him up. I remember racing down the stairs and leaping down the last five or six steps at an attempt to fly. But I didn’t fly. I hit the ground. I never hit the ground. I mean, I always landed of course, but at least it felt like I was flying, if only for a few moments. This time was different. It didn’t feel like flying at all. It felt like a kid jumping down the steps and hitting the floor. As I sat up on the floor, I looked back at my cousin coming down the steps behind me to see if he would continue in my trend of “flying”. But he had already removed his cape and was prepared to go home.

There are few moments in my childhood which I remember vividly. This is one of them. I felt empty and alone. I wasn’t losing my powers at all. I was growing up. And growing up has a price. When you grow up you become aware of life’s problems. Sometimes you even have problems of your own. Initially, life was uncomplicated; nothing was ever a problem, and nothing was ever painful. But when I jumped down those steps and hit the floor, I felt something. Not necessarily pain but a jolt of recognition; something that told me that I would never wear that Superman shirt again.

And I never did.

But I often look back on those times; the times when we could fly. The times when we aspired for greatness and held ambitions most people only dream of. The times when we were invincible; innocent. The times we played contently in the corner. The times when we were happy the most.