There are flashes of memories that usually roll through my mind at the oddest of times. I spend more mental energy trying to figure out why my brain said, "here, try this one" in the context of what is going on around me. I remember a boxy, black F-150 out on a back country road with a .22 rifle. It was the first time I had ever shot anything bigger than a pellet gun. I was nervous as hell ... until that first shot rang out and the plume of dust became a wisp in the wind, revealing the soda cans that were spared any damage at all. I looked over to my left and right for any sign of approval from the representatives of two generations that were also looking over the cab. It felt like hours, but the giddiness of youth was quickly welling up inside me.
"Almost. Try again," came the familiar voice.
My next shots were rattled off quickly and with a bit of glee. That did not hurt my shoulder as I had always feared. I blame a cousin somewhere for that misinformation. When it was all said and done, I wasted ten bullets to ding one Coke can of the three that were positioned down muddy field road. Fast forward to 4-H camp and the summer between fourth and fifth grade. I was actually much better at target practice by that point on the rifle range. I was not even that shaken when the girl next to me fired her rifle into the ground right in front of her because she had not followed directions about loading it after it was leveled. But that shotgun we used later in the week left a bruise on my shoulder and a ringing in my right ear. I wanted nothing to do with any of it after that for the remainder of the time I was there.
The innocence of youth is often overstated. What we call innocence is really reigned-in curiosity or mischief. Children do not know a world of heartache and disappointment. I take that back -- they know it, but they compartmentalize it far more different than adults. I was not thinking about hunting or gun rights that summer. I was thinking about the loud pop the rifle made and how much I hoped I had hit the target. Having spent the last decade in much more urban setting than I had in my youth, I can see how my perceptions of things has changed over time.
Interests change. Friendships change. Locations change. My desire and enthusiasm to try new things does not. That often gets in the way of ever feeling content or being satisfied. I think back to that moment when I was rattling off the extra bullets that rarely hit anywhere near where they were supposed to. I did not try nor care to improve my aim; I simply wanted to take a few more shots.