“All things truly wicked start from innocence.”
Innocence is a precious commodity. Innocence is a gift you receive when you are born. Innocence, once lost, is irreplaceable. It cannot be replaced. It cannot be bought. It cannot be bartered for. It is the most wonderful thing in the world that you cannot fully appreciate until it is gone…
How did you lose your innocence? Perhaps the question assumes to much in very it’s asking but then again, perhaps not. How you lost your innocence is fully dependent on your definition since there are many ways to ‘lose it.’ Examples can include, but are not limited to, being sexually active for the first time, the loss of a loved one, the failed realization of a life’s dream, getting older and discovering how jaded and imperfect our elders
were are, broken promises or that moment when you learn that you aren’t indestructible, invincible or untouchable—based on your definition, can you pinpoint if when you lost yours?
My proverbial ‘cherry’ was popped a few years ago when I was mugged in the Baltimore projects on a Sunday, yes Sunday, morning. My wallet was emptied, my phone stolen and face punched a few times but all that still pales in comparison to what I actually lost–my innocence.
By nature, I am very trusting and have always tended to expect the best out of people which, yes, is quite naive but that is the beauty and gift of innocence. Like a child, I was innocent, naive and trusting of the young ‘muggers’ and others because I had no reason not to be. Having lived all over the world, including east coast cities like Atlanta, I never thought anything ‘terrible’ could happen to me. The mugging for me was both an innocence bubble popper but also an awakening of sorts to a darker world I wasn’t previously familiar with….
Anxiety is the beginning of conscience, which is the parent of the soul but is not compatible with innocence. – Angela Carter
At least for me, and perhaps you, the loss of innocence has been replaced by the naughty charcoal that is anxiety. Once you aren’t as naive and are inherently less trusting, you begin to expect or at least brace for potentially ‘bad,’ undesirable things to happen (to you) and you might feel anxious in new situations. Sadly, losing innocence in any capacity seems to require it to be filled by something else. Whether it is the expanding of your conscience or the ballooning of your anxiety, you, like Rand in Robert R. Jordan’s Eye of the World series, are forever tainted. Agony and ecstasy have become more interchangeable and your world, as you knew it before, has been
Thankfully, there is hope in the perpetual healer that is ‘time.’ Past woes diminish in importance and future happiness is there for the taking. With age comes the loss of youthful innocence but it brings with it wisdom and understanding. If you think I am just waxing poetic, don’t. Last week I moved to inner city Boston to begin graduate school and I am willing, and excited, to live in a city. I’m sure to have anxious moments here and there, both for myself and my wife, but, as Kurt Vonnegut says, “so it goes.“