You’re not finished: not at 18, 19, 21, 30, 40….

11 Jun

Seeing a couple of poignant videos (scattered below) got me thinking about age and it’s perception. Whether it’s the young buck who thinks they’ve been through the social life equivalent of the apocalypse at the tender age of 18, or the same buck who thinks their young age is a decent excuse to act childish and shirk responsibility, our age and perception of it can swing wildly from one end of the scale to the other.

“Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind, kicked the moon”

When I was nineteen I was (as best I can remember) already working like a dog, in a fierce attempt to grow up. I figured that a hundred years ago I would have been married, had five kids (thank you very much, catholic Ireland) and been working for ten years already by that age, so I took great offense to my peers who sat back to piss about in college. The fact that I was still as immature as they were, smoking my brains out and ignoring a life of virtue and principle as much as possible didn’t make a difference to me: in my own twisted narrative, I had the moral highground.

For some reason we put so much emphasis on landmark years that when they’re reached, a little switch goes off in the subconscious; “Great, I’ve hit 18/21/30; I am the definition of maturity incarnate”. It doesn’t matter if we’ve actually achieved the virtues that those landmarks signify, all that matters is the number. And, naturally, you can’t go asking those questions of yourself…that wouldn’t be befitting of a dignified 18/21/30 year old, and it’d be socially unwise too; others might take offense.

The rise of shows like ‘My super sweet sixteen’ and the like, further compound the problem. Parents feel they have to shower their offspring with ridiculously lavish presents because that’s what’s expected. This is becoming the ‘done thing’ so much that the gifts and celebrations are almost taken as essential signs of respect, pride and love that parents should show their children. Without these physical signs, the children don’t quite believe their parents love them. Sure, they know in their hearts that they do, but there’s still a voice in the backround saying “Well…if they really loved me…”

If and when I eventually have kids and they hit those magical numbers, they’ll get nothing special. A pat on the back and a kick up the ass. “You’ve done well, but keep going kid; this is just the start”.

But, depressingly, it’s not just the young that take a meaningless number as the finish line. I knew an intelligent twenty eight year old woman once, someone who could talk about anything and have a pretty good opinion on it. The disapointing part of her was that, over the course of a few months, I realised that she thought herself the ‘Grand old Dame’, because she was so close to hitting thirty. She had been through quite a bit, so had experience to speak from, but the attitude still grated on me: quite a few times in a conversation she would fall back on the “Well, in my long years on this planet…” argument.

(if that one reminds you of Herbie Hancock; we’re on the same level;)

Those long years on the planet can easily count for nothing: a nineteen year old kid in the inner city, with junkies for parents and thugs for friends, can easily have been through more in their life than a forty year old. A forty year old can be wiser, calmer and less judgemental than an eighty year old. An innocent five year old can have a better outlook on life than a bitter thirty five year old.

Your life and learning is not finished at eighteen. Nor at twenty one, thirty, forty, fifty or any other random marker in time. You’re never finished. Never. Sure, you’ve probably been through some things at those ages; but there’ll always be someone out there who’s been through more, and someone who’s been through less. Remember that, and keep working on yourself.

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5 Responses to “You’re not finished: not at 18, 19, 21, 30, 40….”

  1. Roger Porter June 11, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    This is very true. It’s about what you do with the time not the time itself.

  2. Express - you are self! June 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Really enjoy your realistic outlook on life. There is a bitterweet comedy that comes from your writing that I can definately relate to. I understand the bad in the this world to be given far too much credit for when misunderstood and you depict it well – in a positive light none the less. Thank you for your insight. I am glad we have connected.Writer to writer – let us move the nations ;-)

    • orionscoat June 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      hey thanks a lot; me too

      All the best

  3. Deeone June 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    AWESOME Mate! I Love this post!

  4. victoria June 16, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    I like this lots. My ex-boyfriend is 31 and doesn’t act a day over 21. And I know some folks that are younger than me who I would consider “old souls.” It isn’t easy to balance, or to endure the ups and downs of life that make us “wise” without becoming jaded. Our culture does place a ton of effort on milepost ages which when you think about, are kind of meaningless. One of my favorite quotes ever is “life is in the making, and I am a work in progress.” Sums it up!

    Thanks for visiting my blog, also :)

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