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Colorado Shootings Trigger Longings For a Simpler Time


When I was about 14, my family lived in a suburb of Youngstown that was rather rural, for  it hadn’t started to experience the boom that was soon to overtake that community.

There were many fields, some farms, and enough woods to give a curious and lonely teenager a place to explore and dream.

My Dad was a pastor of a small church which sat on a dead-end road that headed back to a Little League baseball field and then some woods that stretched far behind that field.

The parsonage occupied the lot at the entrance of that so-called street and fronted the busy major passing highway.

I had a dear friend during those formative years and her name was Lady. A mutt by breed and a loyal companion by nature.

Lady and I would often wander off and “get lost” in those magical woods that seemed to call my name as soon as the Summer sun rose in the morning sky.

In the middle of the woods was a small meadow and a babbling stream of cold, clear water, where I first saw a water spider skimming across the top of what appeared to be a sheet of  glass.

That wonderous water way was the first place I ever saw minnows darting back and forth among the ripples and the first place I ever saw tree frogs and toads.

Eagerly Lady would join me as I would take every chance I could to escape what I called, “the front world,”  and head back on that dusty little lane to a world only she and I could appreciate together.

In the meadow, that I named for her, I’d lay among the clover and wildflowers looking up at the clouds drifting by. They never seemed to interest Lady, but there she laid by my side, her head upon my chest with loyal devotion.

I would later in life write “every boy should have a dog to remember as a man and every man should have a dog to bring out the little boy.”

Those were simple times. Carefree times. Times without fear and anger. Times with civility and respect. Times of dreams and imagination.

As I watched the TV reporting on the Colorado shootings, read the instant online accounts plus the instant Facebook and Twitter postings, I began to wonder if this “instant” age of information, bad or good and mainly bad, hasn’t taken us to a world that youth no longer hears the call of those “magical woods,” or even, do those woods exist anymore?

Has the smart phone, ipod, x boxes and wiis, replaced the loyal companionship and devotion a youth can have with their dog?

Has man’s inhumanity to man paved over those dusty lanes to dreams?

I wonder if simpler times are now only illusions of age, a notion desired and enhanced by the fear of growing old?

Brutality has always been around us, yet it now appears to be even more so because it’s an instant age and romping through a meadow on a Summers day, being amazed by water spiders and tree frogs is not and instant moment.

*This is the first in a series of posts on exploring  the loss of innocence of youth and some theories on why.

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