I watched the boy run in circles and topple over himself, only to do it all over again. My body instinctively jerked many times to stop myself from running to his rescue—down he would fall onto his small hands, but it did not take long for his little legs to straighten out and he would shoot into the crowd, dodging the coaxing arms of his father and other cooing bystanders. How bold. How unaware.
The little boy had no idea, but he provided much needed comic relief and joviality to the internal crescent of the protest. Most everyone held signs expressing their convictions—their faces dimmed and furrowed against the bitter wind. If they did not hold signs they chanted. Fists were outstretched and legs stood as straight as pillars and still the little boy lurched and traveled betwixt them. At times the boy would explore the empty space between the Rush Rhees stairs and the curved arrangement of protestors. He was happy to have the space all to himself.
When did we become so afraid to fall? When did we become afraid to stand alone in empty spaces? When we trip and stumble we become embarrassed—wishing to dissociate ourselves from the moment. Now that we are bigger, we sit within our chairs. We log into our media and look at stilled realities that we rarely consider lifting more than a finger for. We may be hesitant to eventually approach the towering realities that have the power to shape our minds.
We are only bigger because we have grown fuller with the ideas of others. We have been shown what to think and when reality proves contrary, we are forced to rise.
I was tempted to hold the boy close, to keep him from falling. Others continued to reach for him, but he would struggle and cry out—his arms would nimbly contort ensuring that his escape was successful. I wonder if we have forgotten how to fight for our individualism—apart from the clothes we wear or who we choose to love. I wonder if we have forgotten how to fight for our individual mindfulness. We seem to sacrifice it so easily now that we are bigger. We are told that college will open up so much to us, but we are content to explore so little of it for the sake of having similar opinions.