Coming of age

Ahh the ol’ coming of age as they call it. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what that actually means. They say another year older, another year wiser but is that necessarily true for everyone? You hope that you live and you learn and that you don’t repeat your mistakes, and yet on some occasions you do. It might take two or three times of doing something before you even realise you’re repeating the same pattern. And then there’s the other side of the coin. What if at the age of 18 or 20 or 21 or 25 you have figured out how the world works. I’m not saying you don’t still having growing to do, perhaps you just don’t have any more growing up to do. Why is it that people say that a particular person doesn’t have enough life experience at a certain age? I’m sure in some instances a 12 year old in one part of the world may have been through a hell of a lot more than a 28 year old in another. And so I ask, do we live in an ageist society?

I remember a few years ago I watched a young guy sing Donny Hathaway’s ‘I have a song’ on a talent show and my brother, who was sitting next to me, said “he doesn’t have enough life experience to sing this song”. I disagree. I don’t think you have to be a certain age to be able to relate to particular lyrics or to find a song beautiful. I also don’t think you shouldn’t heed someone’s advice because of their age. I will say this though, I don’t think anyone should make decisions that will affect or impact the rest of their lives before the age of 18. Not because at 18 you are mentally an adult but more because you are considered so and thus won’t be persecuted.

Sometimes I think the wisest words I hear are from children purely because they come out with the simplest truths, such as “if you want to be happy, be happy”. Now you can sit there all day and night trying to explain to them that it’s not that easy for adults because of bills or taxes or money issues or relationship issues but they’ll look at you with a quizzical look on their face and simply repeat what they said; “if you want to be happy, be happy”. Children see every day as a day full of possibilities, they have this innate optimism and it’s not from a self help book. Children, for the most part, are also perpetually grateful, even the ones facing hardship, perhaps these more so in fact. Children are full of wonder and excitement. These are the tools needed for life experience. It’s not a fancy car or house or financial stability or status, it’s the belief in possibilities. Unfortunately, somewhere along the lines adults get distracted, or I suppose ‘stuck’ would be a more apt word. I’m not saying one can’t be happy being stuck, in fact in most cases they hardly realise it, but one day they may wake up and realise they’ve lost that sense of wonderment, that adventurous or creative or spontaneous streak they once had. And so I ask you this, who would you consider to have more life experience, actually who would you consider to really be living; a 21 year old who’s just spend 6 months abroad travelling or a 43 year old who’s been in the same job for the last 12 years and who’s never travelled and who isn’t particularly happy. Perhaps age really is just a number? 

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