I was young once.
It’s easy to say that, right? But there’s more than one kind of young. So which young do I mean?
There’s the young that is young enough to still be taken to Midnight Mass on Christmas (or Easter Vigil for Easter), back when midnight mass was still at midnight, back when they had any kind of midnight mass at all. Those occasions retain a place in my memory because they were some of the most beautiful (i.e., aesthetically pleasing) things about those holidays that I remember from my childhood.
Then there’s the young that is still young enough to have to worry about getting in trouble. I didn’t get into trouble all that often because I was terrified of my mother but I still had occasion to worry about it from time to time. Sometimes I still get flashbacks to those days. That’s when I have to remind myself that, at my age, nobody is going to care if I go to the store at 2 o’clock in the morning.
(You ever notice that almost nobody uses the expression “o’clock” anymore?)
And there’s also the young that is still young enough to think you know more than you do and to wonder why anybody would think a mere five years worth of experience should make so much difference to the life competence of somebody with twenty years under their belt versus somebody with twenty-five years under their belt. That would be true, too, if we were talking about the difference between being 45 and being 50 because by then (we hope!) you will already have learned a lot of the life stuff you need to know and the differences in experience between them shouldn’t be that great. But the differences in experience between 20 and 25 are encyclopedic — and nobody on the younger end of that range ever believes that until they reach the older end of that range.
I got to thinking about all this stuff when I read this article a couple of days ago. Carmeron Esposito gets the 23 year old questions because she’s been there, and she gets the 33 year old questions because that’s where she is now. She knows nothing about the 43 year old questions because she hasn’t arrived there yet.
I, on the other hand, have not only left the 43 year old questions far behind, I am beyond the 53 year old questions — which is not to say I have found all the 53 year old answers. For that matter, it seems quite likely that my 53 year old questions will be different from somebody else’s 53 year old questions. I wonder about things like whether my kids are going to be okay and whether or not I’ll be alone for the rest of my life and who I am and how I’ll heal.
Somebody else might be wondering about how they’re going to die or when they’re going to retire or whether they’ll wind up with dentures. Everybody is different, aren’t they?
Still other people have no questions left by the time they have reached my age. They have opted for lifestyle choices (she says euphemistically) that comfort them with the illusion of certainty and they are now ready to go out and play golf.
More power to ’em. I certainly am not going to claim that I have anybody’s answers. Hell, I don’t even have my own.
I can tell you this: the older I get, the more I recognize the truth of that saying about how the important thing about life is not where you end up, it’s the journey that got you there.