Have you ever truly considered the validity in the adage, "youth is wasted on the young?" Awhile back, I had a project for class, and I found myself reading a book entitled, "Dances With Luigi." The author was a young man hellbent on utilizing his American idealism in Italy, until a very astute and insightful neighbor befriends him and begins to assist him in his journey of discovery. As the author reconnects with his heritage and his family, long forgotten by his American relatives, he begins to understand a few very interesting differences in culture. As his neighbor explains, Americans are always rushing...forgetting to look at what they have created, to savor their meal, the scent of a flower, and hug of a child, but worse...Americans don't value age or culture in the most meaningful way. The neighbor explained that Americans see older buildings, people, episodes in history as something to be shoved aside in the quest for the latest and greatest gadget or advancement in technology, but Italians see a building as having a life of its own. For instance, The Leaning Tower off Pisa has a 1000 years of life vs. it being 1000 years old--the numbers might be wrong, but I think you can understand what I am sayng.
When I was in Ireland and experiencing the Celtic Tiger for the first time, I walked the streets in the very earliest moments when dawn breaks away from the night, and I could not ignore my heritage--this land, where my Great-Grandparents and ancestors walked for centuries. As I toured, I tried to remember every word the museum curates spoke, every nuance of the art that hung or the enormous genrosity of the monks who toiled with the Book of Kells, and I sought people in the pubs to school me about politics, language, modernization and old school values, religion, and humor..I visited gravesites and castles, farms and hotels, shops and cafes, the docks, the mountains and the cities along with their country towns, and I understood when I was reading about the young Italian fellow how he must have felt, when the very thing he was seeking was always right in front of him.
I think as I get older, I often feel like I am being pushed aside. My hair was spotted grey when I was only 18, and by 35 it was a rich salt and pepper, but in the last few years it is a silvery white mix that makes people think I am far older than my 40's. I find it laughable how women run ot dye their hair, paint their nails, and buy all the latest products to keep wrinkles at bay or makeup to cover up what is naturaly theirs to treausre--not saying I am not guilty here too, although the former I have long ago stopped bothering with and the later I am more allergic to these days...
Why is it that we cannot ask the ones who came before us to share who and what they are and what they have seen? My grandparents were incredible storytellers and I fear for my children because my parents are gone and my grandparents are gone, so they have no sense of what I experienced when I was young. My aunts and uncles are incredible storytellers and I am relieved that my children have them, but I wonder what it is like sometimes--do the young children, teens and twenty-somethings of today look at age like it is a trap to be avoided or like the tools of wisdom? As for me, I never thought about it until recently--maybe it is being in school and having four children who are growing up and away far faster than I can imagine, or maybe it is that I am midway to a midlife crisis of sorts and need to feel like I haven't outlasted my own welcome in the youthful club-hha.