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When diving into the realm of my childhood memories, it is difficult to label one memory as “significant”. In my view, a group of memories and experiences is what I remember the best and cherish the most. Examples of these memories are those I had with my Grandfather as a child. My grandfather was a very influential person in my life. He was my hero; he had made a living as a firefighter and had all the memorabilia to prove it. There were shelves which contained pictures of fires and pieces of his charred and well beaten firefighting ensemble that once covered his body, but now covered the bare space that was once a basement wall. I was always mesmerized by all that gear hanging up and how it was once on my grandfathers back as he ran into the burning buildings of Newark saving lives. During my childhood, especially from the ages of six to about 10, I spent almost all my days after school with, since both my parents worked. The memories that I hold closest and those that I feel made the biggest difference in my life where the ones when I would play baseball with him on the front lawn.
I held my glove up in front of my face, blocking the sun so I could get a good eye on the baseball Grandpa had launched into the air. I took a few steps right as my brain processed the trajectory of the ball. I could see a red blur on the ball from the spinning seams. At the last second I moved the glove from my face in an effort to place my hand where my instinct told me the ball would land. Then “pop” the ball landed right in my glove, just as it was intended. This was a common occurrence in my childhood. Not just the catch, but me on my front lawn playing with my Grandfather. At the time I thought very little of it, to the simple mind of a child I was just passing time with my best friend.
As I grew older, although playing catch with Grandpa slowed, I never stopped playing baseball. If I was not playing it, I was watching it on television or looking up player statistics on the internet. I continued to play baseball throughout most of my high school years as well, and then one day I realized something. All that time I spent with my Grandfather was not just to pass time, not just to connect with each other, but it had bigger intended consequences. My Grandfather was using baseball, something that I thoroughly enjoyed, to get me on the right path and stay out of trouble. I truly believe that he was successful at that too.
I had learned more life lessons through baseball than I had ever realized. I was part of a team; I learned the value of working together and being loyal to my teammates. I learned how to be responsible and manage time. I saw firsthand how hard work and dedication would pay off in performance. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that losing and failure only makes you stronger. All these life lessons, these character traits that I developed through a sport I loved are partly due to my grandfather. By playing a sport in my high school years, during the spring and summer, I was part of a close knit team. Because of the closeness, nobody wanted to let the team down, so we were much more responsible and stayed out of trouble both in and out of school. It is amazing to think about how something I did as a small child had impacted my decisions to make the right choices ten plus years later in High School. That is the direct responsibility of my Grandfather and how he helped raise me through my childhood.
Today, I am much older; I no longer play baseball at a competitive level. My grandfather is older and no longer fully capable of completing the physical task of playing sports. I have recognized this through my observations of my younger brother now growing up. In comparison to our readings on E. B. White, I can now watch my brother go through the same experiences I had gone through, except it seems to me to be totally different. As I had mentioned, my grandfather is no longer able to play with my brother Chris as he did me. Despite the fact that he is still always there for him to offer support, Chris does not have that common connection of baseball with him as I did. Furthermore, Chris has little interests of sports in general, he would much rather be inside watching television or playing video games. Just as White had observed his son not following into the same interests as he had as a child, and felt as if he was missing out. I too feel the same way, baseball to me is a childhood memory I am very fond of, and as I mentioned helped shape my future. For reasons unknown, to me, it appears that my brother is going to miss those things that helped shape me into the person I am today.
As evident as change may seem, it is extremely difficult for the human mind to truly accept it, especially when it comes to those you are close with. To me, it is hard to accept the truth that my brother just may not want to follow the same path as I did. I see going outside and playing as the one and only way to grow up happy. Clearly, the generation growing up just ten years after me finds enjoyment in much different things. They would rather sit inside and surf the internet or play random people on Xbox. On top of the inability to accept the change in generations, it seems as we also feel that these changes bring out the absolute worst in kids. For example, when my age group was growing up we constantly were told how television was destroying our childhoods. I am sure the generation previous to us also had some sort of technological breakthrough that also seemed as if it would change the way children developed forever. But look at the outcome, we all have turned out to be fully competent individuals. Of course there are some failures; there always will be those that just lack the desire or skill to be successful. With that point established, then why is it difficult for me, or anyone else, to accept this generation that lives and breathes the internet and social networking? I know my brother is a good kid, I am sure his friends are the same way.
The answer to this was outlined in the essay written by E.B. White. Quite simply, our past never gets left behind. Part of human nature is to look back at those memories and compare the future or relive what you once enjoyed. We are always looking back at memories we cherish, we always hold on to them. Many of our memories hold a special place in our hearts, whether they are of deceased relatives or pets, or those childhood memories we often wish to relive. Our minds seem to work in the future, many times based off our experiences and memories of the past. The human mind tends to think that the best way is our way. Why perform anything differently than we already have done, especially if things turned out well? If I grew up with outdoor activities and am a better person for it, then why would I let my brother stray from that path? We resist the change because we do not see the outcome. We cannot see a result from a problem we have never seen before. Uncertainty is often the reason for the human mind to resist change
Through this kind of intellectual and logical thinking I have discovered and accepted many things. I have found that our memories are truly unique to us and the same memories may not fit the needs or desires of the current childhood generation. We have to learn to accept the evolution of the up and coming generations and that change is not always a bad thing. As much as I want my brother to have the some childhood experiences as me, I have to let him find his way on his own and discover his own hobbies that will shape his character for the future. We all should allow each other, our siblings, and children to find their way through their lives and develop their own significant memories along the way just as we all had the opportunity to.
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