Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw declared that “Youth is wasted on the young.”
Is this true? Do young people not appreciate that they have their whole lives ahead of them, that they have lots of energy, good health and fewer responsibilities than anytime in their future?
Parents and teachers are drilling into them that they should be careful about their choices, work hard and try not to screw things up.
Maybe we should also let them know that right now, while they have the energy and time, NOW is the time to live out loud!
It used to annoy me when I was a teen and “old” people would “tsk tsk” in my presence the quip about youth being wasted on the young.
“I deserve this youthfulness,” I’d say to myself. “I have my whole life ahead of me. I have plenty of time to gain more knowledge and wisdom. Right now, though, I’m just going to enjoy being young.”
I was already SO smart. So smart that I got married at 19 and divorced at 26.
I did manage to get a college degree in that time, and a decent start on a career path. I was a responsible adult. But I never lived in a college dorm, never hung out with classmates on campus, never took off on a beach weekend with others my age. I missed out on those things.
I always wanted to travel to exotic and historic places. Paris, Venice, Tibet, Bora Bora, Egypt … And I still have never been.
I finally made it out of the country just three years ago, when my husband and I went to the Bahamas for a week. It was beautiful and fun and different, and we promised to return. When? If only we were younger.
These days, we are watching our own children grow into adults, along with their friends we have known since kindergarten. They are starting out on their life paths. Some are getting advanced degrees, starting new jobs, moving to other cities more exciting than home.
I want to shout at them: “Do it all now. Travel, explore, learn as much as you can. Take advantage of your youth. Savor every moment!”
I recently saw a posting about a journalism fellowship in Japan that pays $23,000 for six weeks of fieldwork, including airfare and research assistance. For this stipend, the person must produce a feature story on one of four topics.
If I had seen something like that when I was a young journalist, would I have taken advantage?
Is youth wasted on the young? Do they have an inkling about how soon they will feel old, or left out, or that life has passed them by?
Could it be that I simply want to be young again? (I am not very fond of body aches and mystery twinges, bad eyesight and creaky knees.)
Sometimes I wonder if my whole life is behind me. Did I waste my youth? How depressing these thoughts can be!
And then I snap out of it and redirect my thoughts to what is still left out there to experience.
I have often said that I love our simple life in the Lowcountry. But I still dream about going on some wild adventures before we get too old to enjoy it.
Our kids are talking about heading to New Zealand for a visit, and possibly for an extended stay.
Maybe we should join them.