“The youth is the hope of our future.” – Jose Rizal
We men go through a time of conception, weaning and toddling till we know enough to start interacting with society and begin ascending to our peak years starting in our teens. We experience the high and lows, joys and pains, trials and success that life has to offer us. Some of us die young; painful, isn’t it? Life can be so brutal! But the take-home lesson is that you ARE – for I believe life goes on after death – a part of it.
Youth is a time to learn, the moment when the habits that define you for life are formed, and very hard to break. As life has taught me, habits die hard.
Youth for many brings an unknown foreboding because it means a journey into the difficulties of adulthood especially as it concerns making one’s income. Many never get out of their youthful indulgences: they include the all-too-typical pleasures of sex, weed, wine, and women; a fraudulent and wasteful lifestyle is another but all these things aren’t only associated with youth. Youth can also be a time when creativity and strength flourish in the arts or sciences, in politics or business and any other human endeavor.
A couple of examples are worthy of note. The Lord of the Rings film was based on the fantasy novel, The Hobbit, which was first penned by J.R Tolkien when he was 33 at Pembroke College; Wole Soyinka, the first black man to get the Nobel prize for literature penned his operatic masterpiece The Lion And The Jewel in his thirties; one of the co-discoverers of the DNA, the recipe of life forms was a young graduate in his mid-twenties, James Watson. Thomas Alva Edison, the greatest inventor of the Industrial Revolution era constructed his revolutionary phonograph at the age of 30 and got his first patent for an electronic vote counter 8 years prior.
Constructive actions which expand the richness of the human experience stem from youth as well.
Life is a journey to which there is no single path. The nature of faith has always been to preach that there is a divinely appointed path which all men must follow. As a deist, I take a contrarian view. I think all religions are more or less paths to God insofar that means ways man tries to understand or categorize God with rituals, texts, and morals God desires of men.
So what does it mean to be a youth? Age-wise that’s usually taken to be somewhere between your teens and a mature adult in their 30’s. They don’t say life begins at forty for nothing. At that age, you can take on the paradox of a young, old man. Normally, you should be relatively stable financially and had a kid or two. As with all things, there is a mental or spiritual aspect of youth that transcends physical aging. It is vigor and creativity shown by your thoughts and actions regardless of one’s age. We all can be youths at heart. We all can desire, inspire, and never lose the fire, made more impressive by the feat of keeping it burning after many years. Look at King Sunny Ade, Kwam 1 and Pasuma Wonder of Nigeria’s Afro juju fame, those guys would probably die with a mic on their hands while singing joyously at an owambé party_amidst lots of sprayed cash. From now till thy kingdom come you know there’s only one Charles Oputa who is still Charly Boy. Their youth defies age.
People look at their youth with somberness and regret. A time of missed chances and naive misadventures. But must that always be the case? You enjoyed it in all that. Making mistakes is a human thing too. Why not look at it the other way?
- As a learning experience which all men must pass through in their lifetime.
- As something that fades away to the dregs of one’s memory as seen with octogenarians and centenarians, our grandparents, or great-grandparents as it were.
- As a state of mind that can be renewed of as long as our frail human body allows it. Case in point: up until his late 80’s Pastor Billy Graham preached with the same passion for over 5 decades.
You may lose your way and find it back or never: that’s misadventure. It happens. But as long as you keep running the race that is life in whatever it is that you are doing, you deserve respect because that is youth. Seize it! Enjoy it!
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