The Star-Herald

Recapturing the promise of youth

I cannot help but wonder when I will actually grow up. When will I abandon my love for soft rock music, limit my wardrobe, give away all of my beautiful jewelry, sell my PT Cruiser, donate my many books, learn to pass up the occasional cheeseburger, and accept the fact that Bigfoot may not exist after all? Hopefully never, my friends. 

Just recently, my love and I decided to explore Thomas Park in New Sweden. Of course, we did not see the full blossom of the trees and growth of the grass, but the area was lovely nonetheless. We sat down gingerly on the swings, but in no time, we were soaring back and forth, the view before us consisting of tree covered mountains, content and solid and everlasting. We climbed up a steep embankment behind the swings and rested for just a few moments on a picnic bench, commenting on the legendary acoustics of the outdoor theatre beside us. We returned to our car, driving off to explore before heading to Madawaska for lunch. 

I relished the day. Though the swing seat was slightly uncomfortable and the chains I clung to hinted at weakness, I had no fear. I was that little girl once again, rotund and red-cheeked. 

Tragically, far too many tiny souls are sometimes abandoned in the shuffle, with no chance or choice. Innocence and optimism are nonexistent as the wrinkles of society become much more powerful than the simplicity of goodness. We are privy to the atrocities of the universe and the world as we know it. Body image becomes stronger than the ability to express empathy, compassion and intellect. Hearts are shattered by unrequited or soured love. The innocence and the value of simplistic childhood pleasure becomes battered beyond recognition. 

I found solace that morning at Thomas Park, exploring not only the grounds, but also the uncomplicated little girl who every once in a while steps forward and takes me by the hand. She is not afraid to sit down on that snug, plastic swing seat. She holds on tightly to the worn chain, trusting its strength and its durability. Her focus is on the sensation of flight and the marvel of the breeze dancing on her cheeks. 

To me, she is not only the naivete of a child, but she is the power of innocence and youth. 

Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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