Age is relative. In our society we are generally so quick to segregate ourselves into generations that can’t understand one another. The “older generation” doesn’t have a clue what the “younger generation” is going through. Or, from the “older generation’s” perspective, the “younger generation” is so “entitled”. We are so quick to segregate ourselves by decade. “You know you’re a child of the 90’s if…” or “…a child of the 80’s, 70’s, etc.” Our music defines us and separates us by generation. The old folks sometimes call the music of today “noise,” and the young people of today’s generation may call the music of yesteryear “boring”. Not always, but sometimes.
We live in a time where everything moves so fast. It’s no wonder we feel the speed of our generations pulling us apart. A hundred years ago, maybe two-hundred years: Was it the same? Is it true that youth have and will always have the energy and verve, the elders will have all the wisdom, and the rest of us will be stuck somewhere in between? In the grand scheme of world history, are we really all so different?
I only ask this because I have recently found myself moving into a new stage of life that feels a bit like unfamiliar territory. Once, I was part of the rising generation. “The hope of tomorrow.” I am no longer that. And yet, I still hope for tomorrow and I still see myself in that category. While I have developed a modicum of wisdom with my years, I still have energy and lotsa-lotsa verve. I’m still hopeful that I will make major contributions to this world. My life isn’t over and I have yet much more to give.
The generation that follows me is exceptional beyond words. I am daily awed and amazed by this group of individuals and I still want to be one of them. They inspire me in ways no other generation has, including my own.
A case in point: Just last week I worked on a film-shoot where we interviewed a number of individuals over two full days. All had intelligent, enlightening points of view and interesting things to say. I had the opportunity to brush up on my Spanish, and that—of itself—was a beautiful experience.
The last person in the interview line-up was a young lady, seventeen years old, and the youngest person in our group. I was drawn in by the clear, unfiltered honesty of her responses. I asked her—because this question kept nagging at me and wouldn’t leave me alone—“When you talk with your friends, what is the one thing—if you could limit it to one thing—that is the greatest concern for everyone your age?”
I even heard a few of the adults in the room mumble answers to this question under their breath. They agreed with the question—with the asking of it—but as adults often do, thought that they perhaps already knew the answer. True, they knew the answer as it was true for them at that age. But no one could have guessed what this young lady was actually going to say. No one even came close. We all fell into the “generation gap trap,” thinking somehow that the greatest concern for a teen would be different than the greatest concern for an adult. We were all mentally scanning the well-known litany of first-world teenage problems, while the actual truth was so much simpler.
With perfect clarity and very little forethought, this young woman replied, “We worry about being accepted.”
OK. My mind is blown. To me, this answer is incredibly direct and so far beyond any trivialization we might ever attribute to youth. It is authentic, appropriate, and keenly insightful. Isn’t this the greatest concern for most of us regardless of our age? It’s the greatest concern that spans all of humanity, reaching beyond the limits of age and generations into the very fabric of our society. I know that when I pass from this existence, the only thing I will be truly concerned about is whether or not my experience here has been acceptable to the God who gave me life.
Here’s what I’m trying to say, and I’m doing a poor job of it, I know.
- The older I become, the younger I want to be.
- The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.
- I believe that learning comes from the most unforeseen sources; that examples of that which I admire and wish to emulate abound in every generation; and I believe in being watchful for the unexpected.
- Wisdom may be found in youth and folly in the aged.
- A universe of information may be found in a raindrop and vast caverns of emptiness in a crowded room… and sometimes you can experience both at the same time.
- Enlightenment may be given or received at any age; and most often,…
- The greatest moments of our lives are those that arrive unexpectedly.