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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Boy, If I Were Young Again

When you get a little older, you look at the younger generation with envy. Reflecting upon situations you've lived through and now watching young people live through similar situations, you chant the proverbial "If I could only be that young again and know then what I know now" mantra. Not that you would necessarily trade the experiences of your younger days, but you miss the zest and vitality once so vital to your connections of existence. But, you might as well be speaking an alien language when reciting this cliche. Your working senses slowly diminish as you age, but your perspective of sensory perceptions actually increases. Concepts of beauty, of nature, of detail, of quality, of wisdom -- all become more acute. To you, the young seem to be wealthy with so many tools of potential. You know some will work to exceed their expectations and others will comfortably settle for the destinations of fate. You rejoice and pine accordingly as the young run and sometimes stumble in the race to greater maturity. Often, you want to run their races with your own old legs. You wish your way into young lives because, in them, you see scattered fragments of your own reflection. Once attained, your mind never releases these youthful portraits although your body slowly fades. You begin to live the rest of your life through the young who are closest to you. Spawning false dreams of your own rebirth, their actions give you an occasional glimpse of your own past -- your own hopes, your own dreams. But instilling these bygone desires into someone younger, even those whom you love, is impossible and even deadly in design. Your greatest thoughts likely will not change the fingerprint of their unique character. Your desire to be young is born in impossibility and it will remain there. Physical changes, the latest fashions, youthful acquaintances, popular actions, up-to-date phraseology -- all fail at masking your proper age. At best, you may complement an existing trait; at worst, you will betray the image of maturity everyone expects to see. You have made the normal progression of baseball to softball to spectator. Although the seat may be hard and uncomfortable, you still feel the grass, smell the leather, and taste the dirt -- all from your proper place. Yet, your envy of youth cannot die or all faith in the vibrant tone of life is muted. The possibility is that your desire rests in your appreciation of youth from an aged perception. Of course, you want to be young and to be able to do everything you could when you were younger. Unable by some magic potion to relive your life or to live your life through others, you still may admirably experience youth from a distance. At the peak of your existence, the panorama of youthfulness can be breathtaking. In fact, such a view contributes to your own memory bank of experience and prepares you to gain an even newer appreciation of the young: the young who someday soon will be occupying your vista.
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