My father once told me a story that broke my heart. When he was little, he said, he used to love a huge model of a heart in the Smithsonian Museum. Kids could climb around inside of it, and to him, it seemed gigantic and awe-inspiring and fun. It was one of his favorite things to do. When he came home, he desperately anticipated the next time he would be able to climb around inside of the beloved heart again. The years passed, and my father grew up and moved away. When he visited the Smithsonian again as an adult, he realized that the heart was just a dinky little model. It was not particularly remarkable, just a hunk of plastic with a few tunnels for little kids to climb around while their parents rested. My father's memories were tainted.

The loss of innocence can be manifested through a variety of situations, but it does happen to virtually everyone. It is a normal part of growing up, and along with it often comes some degree of maturity. But still, it is a painful experience. One's previous conceptions of the world as a simple, completely happy place get dashed to the ground. A particularly sad instance of this loss is one like my father's, when a person revisits something that used to seem amazing, only to be disappointed by what he/she finds. The tragedy of this experience lies in the fact that along with losing some innocence, the person has simultaneously lost some of his sense of wonder.

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