If you’re old enough to remember any of the old adages that we don’t hear as often anymore, you’ve heard, “Youth is wasted on the young.” While I don’t waste my time lamenting my lost youthfulness, I find wisdom in comparing realities between my twenties and years later.
One concept that I’ve examined is that of invincibility and invulnerability. If you’re at all like me, you looked at a place, skill or vocation that was attractive and told yourself, “I could do that.” It might have been playing an instrument, speaking a foreign language or inventing something extremely important, thereby changing the world. The actual task doesn’t matter as much as the conviction that we could accomplish it.
Because of the years between my twenties and now, I have become acutely aware of the limitations that are absent in youth. While I still seek to play my new keyboard and continue to aspire to fluency in Italian, I discard the ideas of climbing 14ers, gymnastics and a host of other activities that are simply out of my area of reasonability.
This may initially look sad or depressing. But it’s not because I have replaced those ambitions with the realization that I have a number of fields in which I can participate with greater agility than I had at 25. Each time I think about having spent my career in the classroom instead of in sales, I am reminded of my son’s suggestion that I might not have been as happy in the classroom just out of college as I am years later. His suggestion is that it took me the experience of working in corporate America to be viable as an educator.
And so it goes with other areas in which I am now an active participant. Would I have been a better cook than I am now? Would I have endeavored to write books in my twenties instead of now? My conclusion is that it’s pointless to lament the physical stamina or unwillingness to be defeated that I no longer possess. My present is characterized by diligence, patience and vision that are commensurate with age and experience. The tradeoff is a fair one. Why climb Mount Everest anyway? Shalom.
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