Saturday, 30 April 2016

Innocence

People say innocence is a splendid thing, and isn't it awful when you finally lose it and become a wised-up adult? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could somehow return to that blissful childhood state?

Well, no, I don't agree. Innocence puts you at a huge disadvantage and opens you to all sorts of trickery and exploitation. The sooner you lose it the better, in my opinion. The sooner you get to know the wicked and devious realities of adulthood, the better equipped you'll be to get what you want out of life.

Personally, I lost my innocence very late in the day. I was absurdly naive and blinkered for far too long. Not only did I believe in Father Christmas until I was ten, and probably the tooth fairy as well, it was only in my late teens, after I left school and started work, that I abruptly realised how dumb I was and how much of the world's horrors and injustices - and simple facts of life - had been kept from me by my over-protective parents.

I remember emerging from my totally single-sex schooling into a female-packed workplace and realising I knew virtually nothing about women except that they were shaped differently. It took me a while to stop being intimidated by them and start feeling comfortable in their company.

As a local newspaper reporter, I was rapidly confronted with the more unsavoury aspects of life that were hidden from me for so long. Homelessness, squalid housing, poverty, political corruption, alcoholism, violent crime, suicide - the list was endless. I was shocked at so many ugly truths. But my eyes were opened, I was learning fast, and the bubble of innocence had popped.

For the first time I started thinking seriously about my personal identity and realising it wasn't what I had assumed. I had taken for granted that I was much the same as the other young boys I knew - heterosexual, traditional, obedient, well-behaved. I discovered I wasn't necessarily any of those things but was rebellious, deviant, politically left-wing, eccentric. I had to totally reconstruct my idea of myself and kill off the innocent little boy.

So, no, innocence isn't a splendid thing. It's a liability to be shaken off at the earliest opportunity.

20 comments:

Cro Magnon said...

Having attended both a Prep', and Upper, all boys schools, I was exactly the same on leaving and entering the world of work. I then stupidly chose the 99% all male environment of the London Stock Exchange to bless with my presence. However, my proper education soon started, and I quickly became the rake I am today.

Nick said...

Cro: I don't think I would have lasted long in a 99% male workplace. It would give me the heebie-jeebies! Glad to know you're now a fully-fledged rake. I'm still working on it.

Bijoux said...

I still prefer innocence. There are a number of things I've learned over the years that I would love to unlearn.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Oh, me too, many many of them, but I couldn't do without all the useful knowledge that stops me making a complete tit of myself.

Joanne Noragon said...

We're all adults now, with a sufficient amount of learning accumulated. I am appalled at the current reality innocent children must understand.

Shawn Maeder said...

I agree with Joanne. It is sad when children "get to know the wicked and devious realities of adulthood." I don't think you missed much by not facing reality until your late teens.

Rummuser said...

One never completely loses all innocence as life often throws googlies at us when we can only be called naive, no matter that we can be well past middle age!

Helen Devries said...

I knew all about deviousness in politics while young thanks to being in a politically active family...but had no clue as to how manipulative people individually could be - and it still takes me by surprise.

Nick said...

Joanne: Me too. Kids are being introduced to utterly horrible information and are expected to deal with it. No wonder so many of them have mental health problems.

Shawn: You might be right that I didn't miss much. But I was remarkably ignorant about so many things.

Nick said...

Ramana: I wouldn't say that was innocence. Just gaps in our existing knowledge when we come across something totally new.

Helen: I guess you grow up fast when your parents are involved in certain things like politics or the law or policing or charity work. And yes, some individuals are incredibly manipulative behind a charming facade.

Dave Martin said...

It seems strange that as my son has grown up he's been considerably more savvy in certain areas than I was at that age, but then he's still unable to cook or do the laundry as I was doing from when I was far younger than he is now.
The world has changed and innocence is lost far sooner. In some ways that's a shame but maybe by being better informed, kids can avoid making as many mistakes as we did. Either that or they'll just make different ones....

Nick said...

Dave: It sounds like he's deliberately resisting the domestic chores. I wonder why? I agree that if kids are better informed and more worldly-wise, they're less likely to get in stupid messes. Luckily when I messed up, the consequences weren't too serious.

tammy j said...

my husband was 10 years older than i was. as a 28 yr old professional with a two year old daughter and an ex wife he was definitely world~wise.
i on the other hand had been raised by a military man who was as strict as any convent upbringing could have been!
bob finished raising me i'm sure. had my father been alive he would have even forbidden the marriage. but it was a good one!
i was gullible for YEARS. even now i don't always 'catch on' to some things. but i've been lucky in my life to have only encountered good people for the most part. except one terrible abuser after bob's death.
that makes you grow up very quickly. and yet my innocence is probably what allowed him the upper hand in the first place.
we live and learn.

Nick said...

Tammy: You're lucky to have met so many decent people. It must have been a terrible shock to have run into an abusive man. Maybe your innocence was a factor, but he is entirely to blame for the abuse.

Wisewebwoman said...

Am I allowed to say I hate that image you posted. Barbie-clone. Maybe I'm missing some intended wit?

I've tried to retain a sense of wonder. Is that innocent? I had a strict upbringing but exposed to perverts very early in life, not knowing what they were. An ugly shattering of innocence.

I try not to be cynical except for politics and Big Corp and Big Pharma.

I still believe in unicorns.

XO
WWW

CheerfulMonk said...

This post reminds me of a line in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim: "...now and then a girl's laugh would be heard, as innocent and empty as her mind." I laughed when I read that about 50 years ago, and the line clearly stuck with me.

Nick said...

www: Of course you're allowed to say. Yes, I saw it as a Barbie clone, but that's the point because isn't Barbie supposed to be the typical wide-eyed innocent?

I agree we need to hang on to our sense of wonder in a sordid world. Nature and natural landscapes are still wondrous for me.

A gay man tried to seduce me when I was ten, so I guess I lost a little innocence at that point.

Nick said...

Jean: That would probably be seen as grossly sexist these days, but it's a lovely line. It's strange how certain phrases stick in the mind for ever, while others are instantly forgotten.

Ms Scarlet said...

It's not so much innocence I miss, but my naive attitude that I could be or become anything.... sometimes that attitude can get you a long way. Now that I know more I feel I am less likely to throw caution into the tornado.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Ah yes, I remember that attitude as well. The trouble is, you need the appropriate skills and talent to back up the aspirations or they wither away. As a kid I thought I'd be a best-selling writer but it gradually dawned on me I just didn't have what it took.