This I Believe

Leah - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on November 27, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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The Age of Innocence

I wonder how many people really appreciate that song by Martina McBride. I think you know the one I’m talking about. It starts off “In my daughter’s eyes” and then she goes on to list all the amazing things she sees if she could see through the eyes of her daughter. Well, I don’t have a daughter, but I do have son, and Kevin along with this song made me realize, all at once, what to write about. It is something I long to repossess and I definitely believe in the importance of innocence.

I remember the days of my own innocence. I crave the days when I would carelessly walk down to the 7-11 located only a block away from my house in the warm summer evenings. No cares or worries other than whether to choose original of grape flavored Bazooka gum and, the biggest of all dilemmas, what size Slurpee I wanted. I savor the memories of when 3 bucks in my jean pocket seemed like a lot of money. Memories of playing hide-and-seek and red rover with the kids on the cul-de-sac. Then in what seems an instant, I outgrew the contentment and freedom of those days. Can I somehow retain the untainted zest for life I experienced in childhood? I can if I remember to believe in the joy of innocence.

I’ve watched my son greet strangers with the same wide, toothless grin that he flashes at those he’s known since birth. He is undiscriminating in his affections. There are no favorites, fears, or prejudices in his world. He accepts everyone for who they are not for what he thinks they should be. Everyone is loved no matter what the color of their skin or what religion they practice. I envy him. I silently ask myself why I started off with an abundance of forgiveness and tolerance for those who are different than me but somewhere between childhood and now it has alluded me. Can I somehow retain my love and respect for all people that I possessed in childhood? I can if I remember to believe in the acceptance of innocence.

Can you remember your first crush, kiss, . . . love? I can. I’ve reminisced many times on the exhilarating feeling of a new beginning. Wondering where each new chapter of my life would take me. Then the doubt, disappointment, and mistakes came, and I lost something. I tried to hold onto my ideals for dear life and yet they loosened from my grasp in the blink of an eye. Suddenly, I am no longer that wide eyed youth daydreaming of what her future might hold. I make a hushed prayer that I will have the

strength to thwart becoming jaded and cynical on a daily basis. I pose a question: Can I

somehow retain my hope for the best even in the face of adversity? I can if I remember

to believe in the optimism of innocence.

I don’t know what it’s like to look through the eyes of a 10 1/2 month old

but I can bet that it is a wonderful experience. Imagine a world full of promise and everyone you encounter is a friend. Nothing is taken for granted and everyday you wake up holds an adventure waiting for you to come and find it. In Kevin’s mind, nothing is ugly. Every dried leaf in autumn, every tin can at the roadside, even every smelly pile of dirty clothes is a masterpiece. I would love to wake up each day with big eyes in anticipation of the day and just take a breathe grateful to be alive. Can I somehow retain the value of life and appreciation of the world around me I had as a child? I can if I remember to believe in the beauty of innocence.

I believe in the many priceless facets of innocence. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have Kevin in my life to remind me to stop and enjoy each flower in the spring and snowflake in the winter. I relish the fact that I get to relive my childhood all over again through my son’s eyes. If you keep your eyes open, you can learn so much from the youth around you. Don’t grow up too fast little ones, and you grown-ups out there, sit back and enjoy the age of innocence.