The Child Inside
“I was young and foolish then; now I am old and foolisher.” – Mark Twain
I don’t mind those first few cold days of winter. I think the pristine whiteness of the first measurable snowfall is beautiful – and the newly white world, I find serene and breathtaking. I like the way the sound cracks in the cold, clear, crisp air and I love to look at the skeletons of the summer trees when they are dressed it their gowns of ghost-white snow.
My mind’s vision of snowy hills and wistful flakes drifting silently through the winter twilight is both a happy one as well as a rueful and nostalgic one. Never again will I be a small boy dragging a red sled behind me – and standing at the top of a mighty hill, looking down toward the bottom with trepidation and excitement. Never again will I be a boy with frozen fingers and toes, running home to a glowing, warm house and a cup of hot chocolate; that cup tastes even sweeter now because my mom made it for me from scratch. It was real cocoa not the instant kind from a pouch.
With a profound and melancholy yearning, I look back at myself, a young boy, lacing up his new ice skates, sitting next to a warm, blazing, bonfire, raging in an old rusty drum. As deeply as this movie has been etched in a deep, untouchable corner of my mind, so have the happy sounds of laughter of the children skating by me.
I can hear their skates making clear sharp sounds scraping sounds as they slide across the smooth and strangely-blue ice. These sounds are as real as any sounds can be – they were recorded somewhere in time, in hidden corner of my mind. Wherever these wonderful and vivid memories are stored in my mind, whenever I play this back this scene in my mind, the soundtrack is always synchronized perfectly with the movie the I watch in my mind.
A shiver always runs through me as I recall those halcyon days. But a deep, dark sorrow grips me too, for those are days I can never live again.
Winter is an amalgam of happy and sad, of yearning and contentment, of sweet and bitter. It is time for longing for what will be and a time for remember what used to be. U wonder how I became what I am and I wonder where I’m going from here. I wonder if the reflections of the past are somehow colored by time into something they never really were.
“What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. So, it’s the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember – the way were were…” (“The Way We Were ” written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch .)
Maybe it is the laughter and happy times I remember most. Maybe those sad, dark, and bitter memories become more and more difficult to remember after time has had a chance to massage and fade them. Maybe my mind works its magic secretly, and unknown to me, it has been busying itself filtering, eroding and erasing – making good memories seem better than the were and bad memories not as bad as they were.
Maybe the day will come when I won’t be able to recall the bitter, sad, hurtful memories at all. Maybe its the natural filter of time at work. Maybe all I am and all I will ever be is the person I am whose memories and experiences are filtered by time and nothing is really the way it seems.
I don’t think I want those memories, bad or good, filtered so much. I want to remember the dark, hurting, sad days just as much as I want to remember the beautiful and happy ones. But I’m not sure why – it just seems they are as much a part of me as the happy memories. I think I am the sum of all of them. I am the happy and the sad; I am the bitter and the sweet. I am the bad and the good; I am the morose and the sublime.
Today though, I am just a young boy with a red sled and a pair of shiny new ice skates. Having long since said goodbye to summer, and with autumn old and struggling weakly to stave off the hard, biting winds of winter, I will look out the window today anxiously awaiting those first few flakes of snow. When I see them, the child inside me will run outside and look up at the sky and catch a snowflake on his tongue.
There will always be a child inside me; it is the child inside the man. And, I love the gifts he gives me, they are too precious to ever let him go.