A Fleeting Innocence

January 18, 2010
Her careless, carefree lopsided smile hauls me back to the lost years of my childhood, an era long erased from my consciousness. The distant memory of that forgotten day at the beach is obscure, reminiscent of an old photograph, clear in the center but blurry around the edges. I can only vaguely recall the delicate swishes of the incoming wave lightly rebounding off my pale, yellow ankles, the silken texture of the moist sand tenderly stroking my bare, petite feet and the blazing, rainbow-colored beams of the morning sun, rising slowly above the horizon to its regular spot in the boundless blue sky, shining relentlessly on my clothed body.
Although the past, in a frantic world advancing hastily towards the future, remains a vanished age, I still find myself secretly yearning for its ostentatious return. Every time my almond brown eyes glimpse that familiar pristine, round face, so intimate yet so foreign, the tart flavor of nostalgia permeates my taste buds. Grasping her sanguine, unperturbed aura verifies a conception I’ve purposely evaded for years in fear of the remorseful consequences its revelation might evoke. Indeed, analogous to my predictions, its disclosure ravaged my sanity, saturating my mind with an unremitting storm of regrets. If bemoaning was a sin, I am, without a doubt, a reprobate on the run.
I blame myself for frittering away my youth. The future, in the eyes of naïve, ingenuous 6-year-old me, was truly limitless, furnished with an infinite number of possibilities, each one capable of yielding greatness. Yet, owing to her immaturity, rather than taking advantage of every opportunity cast in her direction, she, too young to comprehend the precious value of time, one of the most costly attributes of life, a quality that cannot be evaluated on a monetary scale, wasted away her most promising years to silliness.
Nevertheless, who could censure a juvenile for being inane, a component of her natural disposition? She was giddy and free, like every other adolescent, with no constraints, no worries. For a girl who lived for the moment, each day was filled with dazzling prospects. Without the burdensome constrictions that complement age, she laughed, she cried, she played in accordance with her mood.
Pure happiness, scribbling its neat signature all over her facial expression, is clearly engraved on every inch of her chubby face, still padded with a thick layer of baby fat. The feeling of bliss diffusing from her small body infuses my mind with a bitter sense of jealousy. Although I despise her for not establishing higher aspirations during her childhood years, in spite of this acrid contempt, I cannot expunge my envy towards this lighthearted girl, the youthful version of me, long deteriorated by tension and anxiety.
With a mind that enclosed not a single malevolent or cynical thought, she resided in a world of blooming flowers, spacious castles and happily-ever-afters. Although her innocence and idealistic outlook on life were doomed for obliteration, despite their short lifespan, during their existence, she was once unconditionally jovial every second of the day. No matter how impractical her stance on life was, her elation was real. And, no matter how well aware I am of her impracticality, I still cannot quench my strong desire to be that serene, unflustered girl again.
When I was young, I craved for prudence. Yet, it was only after I acquired wisdom and insight that I finally realized that, all along, what I really coveted was naivety. Although age taught me the unparalleled magnitude of possessing goals and striving to attain one’s ambitions, two elements my underdeveloped mind failed to perceive with clarity, this newly found sense of motivation annihilated my past life of autonomy. With rules and regulations circumscribing my every act now, I could no longer live without restraints, without consideration of my future. Each personal decision, every individual action had to retain a particular purpose.
Futility was outlawed.
With physical and mental development, I lost the jovial and buoyant spirit that accompanies youthfulness. Although I struggled to uphold my childhood independence by refusing to conform to teenage trends, my determination was rapidly worn down by the malicious comments of outsiders. No matter how hard I tried to ignorant and oblivious of the thoughts and feelings of others, the crude opinions of my peers slowly began to contaminate my security and peel away at my self-esteem, eradicating my once carefree, careless personality.

My desire for material success, for peer acceptance, transformed me into a character completely divergent from my past persona. Discomfiture, apprehension, uneasiness molded into a conventional part of my everyday life. This new me stressed daily over her grades, her family life, her outer appearance.
The more she stressed, the more she missed her former self.
When I look at 6-year-old me, I think of everything I could have been but fell short of achieving. Glimmering like a jewel under the gentle rays of the sun, she is an untainted replica of a fleeting innocence, ruthlessly demolished by maturity.





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