The childhood we knew ! Author mike Feria
1983 was the year I was born, and I feel more and more like a curmudgeon every time I’m asked to enter my birth date somewhere, and I’m required to spin that dial on my phone as hard as I can. On the other hand, I feel like my generation was the last of a dying breed; the last pioneers living in the sun before technology started taking over.
As a child, my brother and I lived in a neighborhood teeming with other kids, and we made good use of our time. Our parents could hardly even keep us in the house. I have fond memories of drawing bases in the street with rocks because we didn’t always have street chalk for playing baseball. All of us came together, and if one of our friends was missing in action, we would simply ride our bikes up to their house and bang on their front door, so that they would come out and play with us.
Back then, we had our share of video games, and I still remember the childhood excitement I felt when I unboxed our very first system, the Nintendo. innumerable hours were spent playing games like Contra, Battle Toads (the hardest game you’ll ever play), Double Dragon, Jackal, and TMNT. As the years went on, we bought a SEGA, and I remember spending countless more hours playing Streets of Rage with my best friend, Little James. Should I even mention N64 and Goldeneye 007?
After school, I managed to spend most of my time outside interacting with my friends, because there’s just something that can be said about running through the neighborhood with toy guns and plastic swords while fighting imaginary monsters. Some of my favorite memories were when my dad brought home empty air conditioning condenser boxes for us to play inside and spending my birthday parties shoveling tokens into arcade machines.
The childhood we knew continued
On the weekends, my dad would wake us up before sunrise to go fishing off the coast of Miami, and then we would make our early morning trip to the bait shop to stock up on everything we needed. Somehow, I always had the fortune of catching the first fish. As it seemed, if I didn’t catch the first one, we were going to have a lousy day out on the water. Because of this, my dad nicknamed me, “The Lucky Fisherman.” There were some hard times out there as well, and I could have done without the excruciating sunburns or sea sickness that I periodically endured.
There was a sandbar somewhere out there on the water where we would go relax during low tide, and I specifically remember thinking that it was my island, and we all named it “Michael’s Island.” I recall being angry when we would show up there, and other people were in fact on “MY” island. I wanted to make a flag that I could stick into the sand so other people would know to stay away from there. All those experiences helped mold me into the man I am today, and I’m grateful for every one of them, good or bad.
In those days, we had to rely on our ingenuity. I still remember almost all the games we invented and the rules of those games. Most of all, I remember how much fun it all was. It still warms my heart, seeing kids playing outside as I once did, but as years continue to pass, it’s becoming increasingly infrequent. I drive around and I see all these empty fields and parks, with their unused swings and monkey bars, and it worries me.
The thing that concerns me the most, is that imagination is like a muscle, and if you don’t use it, like most other things, you’ll end up losing it. If you’re a decent guitarist, and you don’t practice for five years, it’s going to show, because our brains begin cutting out the excess. If it’s something that is perceived as being no longer necessary or needed, why hold onto it? In the end, there is a drive that is inspired by the imagination that in my opinion, remains unmatched. A skill often evolves from something viewed as being fun and entertaining to us, not for money or fame. Not initially, anyway.
Childhood these days !
Nowadays, with the inundation of information coming in, there is less time for our creative minds to put pen to paper, skateboarding, or anything else that requires habit. It is said that Americans spend over ninety percent of their lives indoors, and I think that the feeling of accomplishment we used to have abundantly, is being stripped from us somehow. It’s difficult to imagine getting anything productive done while binge-watching ten seasons of a tv show.
On the other hand, video games are not how they used to be either. It used to be that the only way you were playing anything multiplayer, was if your friends were sitting in the room beside you talking as much s*** as you were. There wasn’t all this downloadable content, and loot crates to keep you perpetually bound to whatever game you chose to devote your life to.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m beginning to see a larger shift away from social media because I believe that there is something that we all get from normal human interaction that cannot be substituted. Despite what people say about their anxieties when having ordinary human contact, we all long to find special people with whom we can talk to and relate.
I’ve said numerous times in the past, “You’ll never see more people outside working together and helping one another than you will after a hurricane, or after some other disaster that knocks the power out.” As soon as the power comes back on, inside we go.
Not everything has changed for the worse though, and there have been great strides since my younger years, but if you have a creative fire burning inside of you, try listening to it, because dedication and follow-through are rare commodities.