Where Knowledge Takes Me
As a child, my life was different. I grew up in California where a warm breeze on a summer day could mean more that anyone will ever know. I was happy. It didn’t take much; my feelings were still sensitive to the little things in life. A cardboard box could be a space shuttle or fire engine just as easily as it could be a home for gifts and well-wishes. I remember feeding the ducks. My mother and I would walk down to the pond in our housing development, loaf of bread in hand. We’d break off some pieces and throw them in. Then we just watched. It was fascinating then. I found joy in the simplicity of it all. The ducks would see a piece of bread and then make a tunnel-visioned beeline for it before dipping their beaks in the water to scoop it up. Often this resulted in various collisions and tussles over nothing but a scrap. And I would laugh; not the polite little chuckles that occur in abundance today, but an actual, uncontrollable, expression of delight. I would scream, roll over, and laugh until I cried. It didn’t matter that we would go to the pond every day or that the whole thing was a bore to my mother. I was content with, what seemed to me, the most delightful pastime anyone can participate in.
Then I would go home and play. Toys took the place of any and all shortcomings. It was a world where an action figure really could fly, where superheroes were genuine, and good always triumphed over evil. I lived in a place that was pure and beautiful, unblemished and unproblematic. Dinner just showed up on the table, no questions asked. Macaroni and cheese was a total escape of comfort. My relatives were immortal Gods. They could do no wrong in my mind and never had. And the fact that Grandpa smoked two packs a day and was approaching seventy five had nothing to do with his chance of death. Death was a foreign and unknown phenomenon to me. Everything was alive and it was all a gorgeous fantasy. The truth was not debatable. Decisions were made on the basis of what is right and wrong, and your heart always told you what was right.
As I continued to grow, all of my fantasies would change. My family and I moved to Colorado, and school started. At that moment in my life, I began my endless quest for knowledge. It was then that I realized that there are things more exciting than feeding ducks. Toys were replaced by video games because they quickly lost their magical qualities. I had thought that they were made of unbreakable hopes and dreams, but I soon found that plastic has limits. I found out about the necessity of money, and that sometimes we had to have macaroni and cheese because rent was expensive. And my relatives were not immortal. When my Grandpa died in the summer, the realization that smoking kills hit me like a clothesline to the throat. Smoking was not just a grown-up form of candy as my parents had first described it. It brought heartache to loved ones, and that’s exactly what I felt. Not the kind of whiney sorrow I had felt after being punished, but the kind that leaves you empty and broken. It was later on that I found that with maturity, the lines of right and wrong began to blur. I had to make decisions that weren’t just made right by a simple yes or no. Now I realize that life was so much easier then. Sorrow was short-lived and happiness was eternal. It was my lack of knowledge that had made it so. I believe that ignorance is bliss, and that it always will be.
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