Anyone who is a regular reader of my work knows that I always avoid clichés, both in speech and writing. But as I watched the throngs at the New Year’s Eve party in New York, I couldn’t help but notice the thousands of young people who were present. Regrettably, the expression “youth is wasted on the young” crossed my mind.
To begin, there was no evidence of waste anywhere. Young people were completely enjoying the event, regardless of the jammed spaces and rain. Although I only watched for thirty minutes, their exuberance never diminished.
What is it about youth that we envy? Is it their energy, spontaneity, willingness to take risks or simply their embracing all moments? Maybe it’s their lack of problems that occur later in life – aches and pains, worries of many kinds, liabilities, responsibilities or simply a greater understanding of the sadness found in the world.
If all this regret sounds negative, it truly is. My best guess is that instead of wasting time and effort on envying youth, we should learn from it. While there are numerous physically demanding activities that I don’t need or want to attempt, I refuse to timestamp myself as an excuse not to engage in strenuous pursuits. It’s true that people half my age (or younger) won’t experience many of the muscle or joint pangs or twinges that I do. But we all have the unlimited potential for recovery and in a few days, discomfort will be gone.
One of the truths that I know about aging is that I don’t allow it to prevent me from attempting what I earnestly want to accomplish. This determination is predicated on the fact that excuses are non-productive and self-defeating. Although I’ve frequently suggested that I’m too old or too steeped in non-fiction to attempt fiction, further consideration suggests that this position is foolish. Do our brains become too stiff or infirm to attempt a new endeavor? Absolutely not.
And so, I will continue to walk my 5K races, workout on my stationary bicycle, experiment with new foods and indulge in some flash fiction. Age is an invitation to focus, not a reason to underachieve. Shalom.