Youth Envy

This may not be what you expected. Last weekend, I attended my niece’s graduation from Humboldt State College. Arcata is deep in the redwoods and on a bay – absolutely spectacular. The population runs to laid back folk devoted to preserving the planet – very gently, very peaceful vibe. As the New Century class, these graduate wore commemorative stoles. The majority of them had taken the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility: I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects for any organizations for which I work. The energy and enthusiasm was wonderful.

But that’s not where envy came in. After the ceremony, we were invited to a graduation party. I got into a conversation with my niece’s friend-since-childhood, Audrey. “I wish I was old,” Audrey told me. “It’s so cool to think about all the things you’ve seen and done. I can’t wait until I’m old and can look back over my life and see everything that’s changed.” We talked about the pace of change and the “olden days” of my own college experience for a while, then drifted off to watch the group playing croquet.

I thought about what Audrey had said, though. My hope for her is that she enjoys her present and looks forward, anticipating how her life will unfold. As for me, I love those moments of nostalgia, but I don’t want to go back. Being twenty-something in my world was as much as I could manage; I feel unprepared to be that age in this new world. No, I love watching younger people grow up and change and change the world. As for me, I’ll continue to stretch and grow and contribute from exactly where I am.

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