We all take in what surrounds us from the day we are born, and sometimes, what’s good or bad becomes very vague. As human beings we operate basically on two levels…the conscious and subconscious…either one, at any given moment, having full control of how we think, feel and react. Our minds, you could say, are empty wells that are filled with what we put in.

Let me tell you a little story about one of my brothers. From his earliest memory his favorite television shows were Bonanza, and Wagon Train. He lived and breathed “Cowboys and Indians”…so much so that he even named his two goldfish after two of the characters from the television series “Wagon Train.” Everyday between the ages of five and eight years old he always made sure that safely in his room, neat and well-kept, was his cowboy hat and waistcoat. Also, his trusty toy guns had to be nearby to take care of the “bad guys.” His imagination was full of heroes, villains, and women in distress who needed to be protected. After awhile you couldn’t tell whether he believed he was growing up in the late 1950s or on a wagon train or on a ranch in the wild wild west. When he went to school the hot topic of all the boys was what Little Joe did on Bonanza the night before. These boys lived their dreams through their cowboy characters. After the age of eight my brother’s interests turned to super-heroes and “G.I. Joe” (the ultimate soldier who fought for the good of mankind!!) I remember walking into his room around this time seeing him playing with G.I. Joe and looking at me, telling me to remember that there are FAKE G.I. Joe’s out there, and to NEVER buy him one. Batman, Superman, Heroes for Truth, Justice and the “American Way”…how many boys did we see around Halloween running through the streets with capes on, believing that bullets could not kill them, only “kryptonite.” Innocent times? perhaps….but the heroes were different.

As my brother entered his teenage years the Beatles arrived….Beatle wigs, Beatle socks, Beatle gloves, not to mention the music. At first it was hard to understand, were the Beatles musicians or cartoon characters? My brother thought both. Around the same time sports rose to the forefront of his life. Baseball was King…Mickey Mantle was the man many kids looked up to. As he attended high school my brother, too, had to choose which group or clique he fit into. My brother chose the band, and the football team. Today, he regards those days as some of the best times of his life. Before he knew it, school was over and everything became girls girls girls. The hours of time that he once had open to do whatever he chose started shrinking fast. Responsibilities beckoned and before too long he got married and had children. Today when we have conversations about those times he tells me there are many nights that he looks to those days as fuel and inspiration for the future. He asked me once, “Boy, were we ever that innocent?”

There are many children today attending different schools around the world….who are their heroes? What are their dreams? Another group of little sponges….soaking up what surrounds them. Why did my brother like to play Cowboys and Indians? Why did my brother like the Beatles and sports? Because that’s all he saw to fill his void of time. What do the children of today have to choose for their void of time? Even though my brother played with toy guns as a cowboy, he never grew up to have one as an adult. The thought never crossed his mind…maybe because it wasn’t that the cowboy’s had guns, but that they were the heroes, and came to “save the day.” Homes around the world flood their livingrooms with information. Everything from television, radio, and the internet. The substance of that information is what children and adults use today to fill their void. People are working harder, longer hours to have the same luxuries their parents had. It’s not so easy anymore to keep an eye on the kids….but that, we must. Maybe we should all put a little sign up in our livingroom that says “CAUTION…SPONGES HERE.”

Take the time to love,
Jennifer Avalon
© 1999 Jennifer Avalon

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