The Ignorance of Innocence

In the middle of winter in 1991, I was protected by not having instant access of modern day technology. There was no internet, cell phones nor wireless technology. I was ‘modern’ simply by having a telephone answering machine at home. And it was this rapid blinking on the machine that made my heart quicken.

It was an unusual day in many ways. I had attended an important meeting at work, for an upcoming rugby match, that I wasn’t required to attend. I sat around my workplace without really having anything to do. Instead I whiled away the hours helping Nic and my other friends with their projects. Oblivious to the frenzy going on at my parents house one hours drive, away. To add to the strangeness of the day, I even went to gym after work and watched Nic flex and tone his muscles, all the while dodging my own yawning reflection in the massive mirrors.

After our dogs had howled us our welcome home song, I made my way over to the blinking phone. For six hours I had lived my life intact, without the knowledge that Mum had died. I was the last of us seven kids to know. Even my brother and sister living 8000 miles away found out before me.

The bliss of ignorance. The innocence of a world without instant messaging, instant information and unknown impatience. I have been reflecting on the trust of life that I had then. That for a few hours I still had a mum while grief had shattered my family. I was intact. Whole. Unscathed by the tsunami of grief that was making its way to my life. I think about the day in the silent slow motion way that we recall an accident. I now know it’s because we access the slow frequencies of our subconscious, trying to replay the trauma to prevent future hurts from doing the same. Futile attempts at trying to prevent tsunamis, however very necessary for our survival.

My survival is evident, my adult life lies behind me now. But future is still unknown. The new ‘normal ‘ of life without mum took a long time to settle. Today I am thinking about the spread of panic and fear regarding the Corona virus. I think back to the innocent times, when newspapers were my Facebook and the TV news was Dad’s gospel. The time in between the unknown was longer and the comfort of the unknown made us breathe properly. Somehow I survived 1984, Y2K, the various Apocalyptic events including 2012, SARS, Swine flu, and recently our deadly polony virus. I had my own Apocalyptic events in my life that didn’t have global dates. But my first scar of life was delayed by a few hours because Instant Messaging was yet to be invented.

Today’s youngsters don’t have that luxury, unless the internet goes down. Remembering how to trust an afternoon ahead without checking for updates every 5 minutes seems almost alien. The excitement of getting an airmail letter and savouring the moments unread. The joy of hearing a scratchy long distance telephone call but the disappointment at the swiftness of the expensive conversation. Waiting excitedly on a Saturday evening for the Pop Top 20 on the radio, armed with a not quite blank cassette ready to press record. The confidence of paper airplane tickets and the constant checking of all the carbon copies. The giddiness of walking into a massive public library knowing that so many words lie unread. Watching a silent video and seeing Mum’s smiling face while clutching her cigarette at Mary’s wedding has also become a memory. But at least I can somehow unearth that video. The other moments of an unhurried past are now just recollections of my world gone by.

As much as I love the ease, variety and speed of modern technology, I sometimes miss the ignorance of innocence.

2 thoughts on “The Ignorance of Innocence

  1. Beautiful words Cathie I also remember that day so very well 😢🙏 and lots of little anecdotes that are beautiful but would take to long to list here 😢🙏

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