The Wonder Years and Childhood Innocence
The moral case for finding yourself through revisiting childhood innocence.
Children are incredibly innocent.
It's one of their defining characteristics. They haven't been beaten down by the world in an endless series of painful experiences they will go through in the future. They still have all those things ahead of them. As a result, they don't see the way the world is. Being children, they can hope for the future and believe things that adults won't necessarily think about. Come up with ways to explain things which are more straight forward or simple than they have to be. Adults have a way of complicating the world and insisting on a variety of factors being important.
But as you get older, you find that part of you craves the way in which you used to think about things as a child. You wish you could feel the way you did at that age. Without all the experience you remember that made you more cynical and uncertain about who you are and what your place is in the world. Probably because you know on some level that you won't be able to get it back. When you age, it becomes harder and harder to remember what it's like to be that way. This is partly why there's a generational gap between the adults and teenagers and children. They remember better what it's like and adults can't or find it very difficult.
The closest that most adults get to the innocence of a child is when they have children themselves. By having their own children, they are confronted directly with the reality of what being a child is like. They see the way young people think and feel and it's incredibly difficult not to get swept up in that magical thinking. Which it is. If there's anything else which comes close to magic and magical thinking, it's harder to find than childhood innocence.
The Wonder Years is all about being able to experience that magic through childhood innocence. Dean Williams, played rather brilliantly by Elisha Williams, embodies that innocence beautifully. Through his experience of the world, you can come as close to what it was like to be a child as you can. Outside of having a child yourself. Things which are known about by adults are looked at through the simple and uncomplicated ideas of a child. Complicated things are reduced to their most basic, only the most absolutely necessary forms.
You experience the magic of innocence.
But you also come to understand what has been lost when such things come apart. When you become a little more knowledgeable about the world. Seeing some of the complications that arise as you move from childhood to adulthood. And that process can be just as important and magical as being a child or finding a way to experience the way it makes you feel. The loss of childhood innocence is seen in many ways as a tragedy, and it is.
However, you can find ways to recapture it and The Wonder Years is a beautiful way to go about it.
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