Is Youth Wasted on the Young?

If we’re lucky, we can hang on to a piece of our childhood forever. The soft feel of a favorite blanket or teddy bear; the look on the face of your first puppy; the sound of the music played by the ice-cream truck driver. If we are lucky, these are the kinds of memories that keep us from growing old too fast.” – Cleopatra Highbourne from A Salty Piece of Land


Where is the justice? When we are young and full of energy, the many incredible blessings that fill our lives are often taken for granted, overlooked as a given, just part of our daily routine. Fleet of foot, quick-thinking, strong, smart, beautiful, energetic, and with a memory like a steel trap, little stands in our way. We make the most of life and enjoy our fill with little thought of the passing time. How easy it is to take for granted that which we have never been without.

But time has a way of catching up with us as we continue down our path to senior citizen status. Everyday things become more challenging. Good old days mutate into good-to-be-alive days. Youth slowly but inevitably slips through our fingers. What a waste!

It seems like just yesterday when…

  • Jumping out of bed was the way we started each day
  • Reading highway signs on the distant horizon was a snap as was reading a novel in our hands
  • “Spicy food” was an enticement not a warning
  • Sleep was as easy as laying your head on your pillow
  • Car trips did not require creating a map with the lay of the nearest restrooms
  • An extra glass of wine did not lead to middle-of-the-night vows of future abstinence
  • We heard and understood everything going on around us without needing to turn our “good ear” toward the source
  • Picking up a dropped item did not require a hand hold for support
  • Falling down resulted in a skinned knee not a potentially life altering injury

I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger – Ooh La La by Faces

Ah the good old days have come and gone and we are here and now in whatever shape we may remain.  Although today we may be a well-worn-version of our former selves, life still holds surprises, adventures, and wonderful moments to be experienced. Over the years we have learned the true value of our friends and family, that money is not all there is, to appreciate beauty wherever we find it, to be thankful, to smile, to slow down and smell the roses. As long as we have learned from our experiences, as long as we are a more complete person today as compared to when we were younger, as long as we remain young at heart, it has been a worthwhile journey.

It may sometimes feel to us aging baby boomers that youth is wasted on the young. But what prior generation has ever fought the aging battle with more vigor? Who else would have thought of such creative ways to find excitement and risk our lives from bungee jumping to parachuting to bicycling across the Alps ever in search of that adrenaline rush to provide an exclamation mark in our lives? Baby boomers are not afraid to live life to the max and the smart ones waste no time doing so.

Youth is not merely about a young body but also a state of mind. Although we may have unknowingly squandered some of our youth, our heart is still ticking and our mind is still clicking. Don’t let your youth be but a memory that you treasure as an older person. Show the world what you are made of and hit the streets!

3 thoughts on “Is Youth Wasted on the Young?

  1. I’ve always felt college is wasted on the young. I would have benefited much more if I had taken a few years off and then gone to Syracuse. As it was, I took classes and did what I had to do to graduate but missed most of what the experience should be: learning to learn.

    I went the the library only when absolutely required . I didn’t attend any events on campus that might have proven intellectually stimulating. I look back now and wish I could repeat the experience. I know my approach to the opportunities would be radically different.

    Since that can’t be I’m doing what you suggest: making the most of my life experiences to stay active and involved. I’m much more appreciative of the world and people around me than I was at 20.

  2. I had to laugh at planning your car trips to include pit stops. For me it’s not the car trips so much as the City excursions. Finding restrooms when you need them in strange cities is a challenge.
    Still, we made our beds in our youth and now must lie in them. It is what it is and we now must make the best of it.

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