A few nights ago I had the pleasure of having dinner with some friends of mine. Many of the people whose company I enjoy are ten to twenty years younger than I and this couple is no exception; he ("R") is twenty and she ("C") is twenty-two. While I dearly love those in my age bracket I find that the young 'uns typically have more energy and hope, without the emotional baggage that so often seems to come with age when too many of us allow life to beat us down. The trade-off of course can be a lack of maturity that limited experience can bring. For all my 'older' friends reading this I promise it isn't directed at anyone, so no venomous attacks please. :) You guys are all young at heart and know how to have fun.
Early in the Spring R had asked me to accompany him at lunchtime to the local mall to pick out a gift of chocolates for C. They had been dating for a short period and wanted to keep the whole thing very hush-hush. R and I had known each other for a short while, and as our conversation continued he felt more comfortable confiding in me, and I in him. He asked me myriad questions about relationships, our exchange seemed to last forever and I loved every minute of it. After much careful consideration and endless Q and A we picked out a box that was 'just so'.
That forty-five minutes was one of my fondest memories of this year. I wondered why that is and soon realized that, at least for the moment, R was like the son I never had. (Sandy and I have both elected not to have children, a decision which I have never regretted and neither has she; at least so she's told me. After seeing her reaction to screaming babies I tend to believe her). The opportunity to take R under my wing and help him out was an indescribable feeling.
Back to dinner. Ironically this occasion was going to be on me but they insisted on treating instead. As it always seems to, conversation soon turned to relationships. R and C asked some very probing questions, and literally hung on my every word as I answered to the best of my ability. If only all conversations could be conducted with as much consideration. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm very comfortable being frank and open if we've built that level of trust, so this was a very meaningful moment for me. I don't pretend to have all the answers but I was happy to give of myself.
I soon realized that we have a certain obligation to today's youth to guide them. What good is experience if kept to ourselves? More often than not it will be ignored and those to whom we give advice will do as they please, it's just something we have to accept. But there will always be those who will listen, and it's to them we owe our time. By the end of the meal I realized that they were both very dear friends to me. (Plus they make an adorable couple. And believe me, 'adorable' isn't a word I use very often as it's usually reserved for kittens and fuzzy bunnies).
After the meal was finished I thanked them both, R said it was in appreciation for everything I've done for them. My response was that I hadn't done much, but R told me I've done more than I'll ever know. I've always told others that they will have more of an impact on more people than they will ever realize, but I never stopped to think that could apply to me as well. Another lesson learned.
Shaw once said that youth is wasted on the young, and to a large extent I agree. But I also think that if we discount what today's youth can bring to our lives then it's wasted on us too.