Is Youth Wasted on the Young?

Perhaps Youth is NOT Wasted on the Young!

coffee drinkerOn a day to day basis, I am one of life’s planners. If you want to make a social arrangement with me then don’t suggest this week or even next, the earliest gap in my diary is three weeks hence. This is not because I am enormously popular and on an endless whirl of fun and frivolous engagements but because I plan out my time so rigidly that I leave no room for manoeuvre.

Work commitments, domestic chores and family responsibilities mean that my diary is laden with obligations and I am never far from a list. My friends are the sprinkling of chocolate on my cappuccino of life and they schedule their time with me appreciating that whilst I love the idea of spontaneity, I am hopeless at actually being spontaneous. They empathise; they are the same.

In complete contrast, I have noticed how my teens lurch from one hour to the next with no forethought whatsoever. They are not tied to anything save school and so evenings, weekends and holidays see them drifting delightfully at will. I find it frustrating that there is frequently uncertainty attached to mealtimes and a lack of comprehension that if they want to be picked up, more than 5 minutes notice would be helpful, but I love that they are still so unhampered by the shackles of the great big world that they can be free and easy.

carefree teenagers on fair rideThere is that expression “youth is wasted on the young”. It always makes me laugh because actually, I really don’t think it is. Young people live their lives with their arms outstretched for new opportunities and an open-mindedness that encourages exploration and adventure. It is as we get older that we become more stolid and weigh down our lives so heavily with self-inflicted constraints which wear away our free spirits.

We then mourn the loss by glibly lambasting the young, using the benefit of our hindsight against them, telling them that if we had the chance again, we would live our youth so much better than they are living theirs ….

I am often surrounded by “youf” and it is when observing them that I am at my most inspired. There is something wonderful about the way that they never seem to fear change. They would never shirk away from new ventures or technology. Chameleon like, they adapt to their surroundings entirely and meet challenges head on. If something bad happens, they rise again and quickly shake off the embers of error. Tomorrow is always another day and it does not occur to them not to embrace and enjoy its newness.

Quite recently I was called a Luddite by one of my son’s teachers at parents’ evening. It was because I was bemoaning the loss of books as he extoled the virtues of learning vocab on an iPad. I am not one to accept such direct criticism lightly, so my family were amazed when I didn’t deride his comment. The truth is, he was right! It was my fear of mastering a new device that I found discomforting and it was easier to pretend I thought it was an unnecessary learning aid than accept I was being left behind.

Recently I have come to embrace the fact that there are lots of things I don’t know. There will always be lots of things that I don’t know. And this is what makes life so exciting.

l think I will live my life best if I open my eyes more widely to the world’s extraordinary things. As Pablo Picasso said

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

toddler staring at shadowSage advice indeed. We all have the capacity to be remarkable, so shrug off your fears and preconceptions, explore, learn and bask in the glow that comes with the joy of discovery. Who knows where life will take you next?