Fear is in the Eye of the Adult Beholder
I’m so much more a puss today than when I was sixteen. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m a manly chap. I grunt and high-five and have been known to do the seriously homoerotic fist-bump-explosion thing after we win a softball game but I’m nowhere near as daring as I was when I was an even dumber fuck than I am now.
It’s hardly new to talk about how we feel indestructible when we’re younger but to two see the change firsthand in myself and then witness my daughter’s lack of fear is alarming.
When I was younger my buddy Bert and I go to Vickery Creek Park in Roswell all the time. It’s a great series of trails, cliffs, ancient dilapidated buildings, and swampy areas near the Chattahoochee River which culminate in a somewhat large waterfall. It was a place to hike, play hide and seek, and sometimes make little VHS movies. I still go there from time to time but as my family and I walked there yesterday and I saw how willing my daughter was to walk right up to the edge of the waterfall I was reminded how much time really beats down on our perceptions and own tenuous grip with mortality.
We used to go into the river at the falls and trudge downstream through it all the way to the parking lot. There were mini-rapids, slippery and sharp rocks, and pieces of who knows what moving downstream. This is in fact the river they dredged little dead bodies out of during the Atlanta Child Murders in the 80’s, after all. I pulled fishing hooks out of my shoes, found pieces of broken glass embedded in them, and collected all sorts of debris over those years. Never once did either of us get really hurt, though I did witness Bert falling directly on his back on the rocks beneath the falls as I watched from above. When I go now all I can think about is how dumb we were.
And that’s before you consider the sewage. The Chattahoochee on its best day is not a very clean river. Near Vickery Creek, a place where one can traverse the water by walking on giant sewer pipes, you can sometimes smell the aura of excrement over nature’s cologne. It ain’t great. Yet, we spent countless afternoons knee deep in it.
Now I go back and don’t even go near the water’s edge where it’s fast moving. Partially because I typically have my daughter with me and would hate to watch her face as I’m swept downstream but also because I’ve become more tentative about the dangers around me that I don’t feel the need to rush at head-on.
People, that’s one thing. If a person is an obstacle or an enemy or someone who needs to be confronted, so be it. But I’ll walk a quarter of a mile down the street to find a better place to cross or stop at a yellow light where I wouldn’t before simply because of the “what if” factor.
Are we smarter to be careful or to be carelessly oblivious to the threats out there? I’m on the fence, but I did realize that I have to be very cognizant of my little girl’s burgeoning free will and lack of concern for the threats in her environment.
It’s one thing to learn the hard way. Natural selection also isn’t a bad thing because as much as it hurts to say, some human beings don’t deserve to survive. I guess the discarding of that aloof carefree existence was a fair trade-off if it means being a good parent and keeping my kid from becoming one fo the cautionary tales.
Still, it would be fun to walk down that river with Bert one last time.
Before I go, here’s the latest thing I’m adding to the blog. Each day I’ll have a song, a piece of artwork, a photo, a Mary Worth, or something to further justify your click and to give the trolls a little more ammo. Today, a tune…
Guitars – Steve Murphy / Drums – John Makarewicz / Keys, Vocals – Nick Nunziata
– Nick Nunziata agrees with George
Carlin that he has a strong immune system because he frolicked in
disease ridden waters so much.