Life Imitating Art -- Or Something Like That
Life Imitating Art -- Or Something Like That
By Mike Bailey
Life Imitating Art -- Or Something Like That
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I went walking this afternoon (02/18/14) -- looking for lost baseballs around one of my favorite
county parks that has six baseball fields -- and as I drifted along, I thought about a comment (joke)
Jay Leno
made on his last performance on the Tonight Show the other night.

He said, “23 years ago, you could smoke anywhere and marijuana was illegal. Today, you can’t smoke
anywhere and marijuana is legal in half the states!”

While it is true and funny at the same time, it just goes to show you how things do change over time
-- even those things that on the surface still look the same. I was reminded of this life fact as I
walked along the edge of the woods surrounding the ball fields and saw a couple of play forts built
by kids further down in the woods.

On several walks this past year, I had the occasion to walk down by some of these make-shift forts
to retrieve a baseball that had made its way this far down into the woods. These secret forts
(hideaways) were built just like the ones I and my neighborhood kids on Church Street in Sumter,
SC built 60 years ago -- all sorts of discarded boards, sticks, piece of metal, signs, whatever – all
stitched together with wire or string (sometimes with a few nails) to make our fort to hide and play
in and also to allow us a place to fend off all enemies that might invade our neighborhood.

I have been walking (short hikes) like this almost daily/weekly in warm weather and less often in very
cold times for the past 33 years since we moved into our current home in Marietta, GA. During all
these times, I have seen the same sort of phenomena of “changes over time” that Jay alluded to in
his monologue.

In the early years (20-30 years ago) of my walks, I saw the same things discarded around these
forts that could have been found near our secret hiding places of 60 years ago. Carelessly dropped
or just thrown way were candy wrappers, empty drink bottles, one or two cigarette butts, maybe
one cigar butt, and every now and then, the crème de la crème -- one empty beer can.

Those were the days -- we were living dangerously –- especially if the fort ended up with more than
one can of beer that we just had to dispose of.

However, in today’s world, things have and are changing to the point it scares me.

In the last five years or so, I have noticed a radical change in the discarded materials that surround
these magical secret hiding places (forts) that kids have made in the woods near where I live. Yes, I
still see the candy wrappers, cigarette butts, occasional cigar butt, and even an empty beer can
or two.

For whatever reason, none of this bothers me –- maybe it is too close to my own memories so it all
seems normal -– I don’t know.

What does bother me, scares me to death, are all the new things that I now see showing up around
these secret hiding places.

Now I am seeing hard liquor bottles –- from pints to quarts -– discarded along with the empty beer
cans (six pack or more). To add to this danger, I am also seeing empty prescription bottles -- the
light brown colored ones like in your medicine cabinet –- with the prescription labels scratched off.
I am also seeing the tiny scraps of paper/tin foil packs that I know held medical pills at one time.

Then there are the final items that I see that scare me more than anything – the empty,
discarded syringes.

Some days when I see this, I get so upset that I have to quit my walk and just get in my car and
head home. I see all these beautiful homes built around these parks that are filled with parents who
think they and their kids are safe and sound where they live and where they play. Most would die if
they knew the real dangers that confronted their kids not 100 yards from their back doors.

As I drive away, all I can think of is, “Oh my God, what is happening to the future for so many
of our kids?”
...The End