Riley’s Innocence (And Our Own)

Me: Excuse me Riley, I need to get something from the cabinet
Riley: ?
<Riley moves, I open cabinet door, Riley looks in>
Riley: …it … opens…
Me: Cabinets do that.
Riley: <in her best George Takei impersonantion> oh my!

In many ways, Riley’s innocence is something we all share, and all too often it is lost too early. 

Spring 2000. Y2K had come and gone with a whimper (where was the chaos I was promised?).  My father had passed away the previous fall (miss you Dad!). And I had just returned to college after a nearly 4 year hiatus.

I walked into my freshman acting class, taught by Dr. Lorenzo Garcia. Here I was, surrounded by young 18-year-old kids excited at the prospect of college – here was their chance to shine on their own, and become the people they were going to be. 

Dr. Garcia asked us, “Why are you here?” Of course the young teenagers answered “I want to act” or “I want an education” or some other randomness that one expects from kids. I gave a different answer.

“I want to grow down again.”

Not so strangely, only Dr. Garcia seemed to understand. As we get older, and I’d like to think wiser, something starts to become clear. We lose a certain curiosity with the world. We’ve had that first kiss under a moonlit sky; we’ve been down that curvy country road many times over; we even got a job.

Some days, I awaken to new possibilities even at the age of 34. I remind myself that just because I have lost a certain innocence I don’t have to lose my curiosity. This is what Riley has taught me. I can still look at the world with fresh eyes.

The common conception is that we must have a certain ability to suspend disbelief to enjoy a good movie, or a good book. This, my friends, is also true of how we approach life. We must ask ourselves, “What am I going to look at today with fresh eyes?” We should ask ourselves,”What new adventure can I have today?” This, dear friends, is how we stay young.

This, young friends, leads me to ask you this: What new experiences, new thoughts, new perspectives, or new roads, are you going to see today?

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