How To Waste Your Youth (or not)
The effort to wise up while we’re still young enough to enjoy it.
“That children do not know the reason of their desires,
all the learned teachers and instructors agree.
But that gownups too
stumble like children on this earth,
not knowing whence they come or whither they go,
acting as little according to true purposes,
being ruled by cakes and birch rods, no one likes to believe;
yet to me it seems quite obvious.”
– Johannes von Goethe
The LiveReal Agents, working to wise up,
before we get too old to enjoy it . . .
“It is one of the capital tragedies of youth –
and youth is the time of tragedy –
that the youth are thrown mainly with adults
they do not quite respect.”
– H. L. Mencken
Step 1: Some of us, maybe even many of us, when we’re getting up in years . . . look back on our lives ( . . . or at least, our youth), reflect thoughtfully and say . . .
“I blew it.”
( . . . or, “What could I have done better?” or, like “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” that kind of thing.)
Step 2: Say, this is the realization of a parent, or an old grandmother, who has kids or grandkids she really cares about. Then, too often, she goes to her grandkids and says, “Hey, don’t do what I did. Don’t make the same mistakes I made. This is something I know, from experience.”
Step 3: Grandkid says, “What do you know? You’re just an old codger! And who are you to impose your morality on me? That (whatever you’re talking about) doesn’t sound like any fun. I’m different, special, completely unique, smarter, immortal, the rules don’t apply to me, by nature I an inherently immune to any kind of whatever you’re talking about. But thanks anyway.”
Step 4: Grandkid repeats the same mistakes as Grandmother.
Step 5: Sixty or so years pass. Grandkid now assumes the same position as Grandmother. Return to Step 1. Such is life.
“Youth is a wonderful thing.
What a crime to waste it on children.”
– George Bernard Shaw
The “Waste Your Youth” Arena is designed for those young (and old) who are interested in the possibility of living smarter, with more practical intelligence or wisdom, without reinventing the wheel, so to speak, or by trying to learn from other people’s wisdom and mistakes, rather than their own.
“Old age puts more wrinkles in our minds
than on our faces.”
– Michel de Montaigne
Party Topic One:
“Don’t think about things.
It’s no fun.”
“Well, we’re all going
to start thinking
sooner or later, like it or not,
whether it’s when we’re young,
or when you are drawing our last breath.
. . . so, might as well start when you’re young, while there’s still time to do something about it,
And because you might
save yourself from a lot of unnecessary suffering.”
Party Topic Two:
As the saying goes,
you should be “as wise as serpents
and as innocent as doves.”
. . . the trouble is,
most of the time,
by the time you’re “wise as a serpent,” your “innocence” has gone the way of the wooly mammoth.
So, the question then becomes,
“How do you get wise,
without having innocence disappear first?”
“The first half of a person’s life is spent
doing ‘his’ thing – the last half
hiding from the shame of it.”
– Roy Masters
This arena is a feeble attempt to remedy the above situation.
The goal of this section is to gather in one place what a lot of old people have to say on the subject:
“If you had to do it all over again,
what would you have done differently?”
“What do you most regret doing, or not doing?”
“‘If only I were young again’
If you actually were young again, what would you do differently?”
. . . questions like that.
In a sense, what we’re doing here is making a headquarters where old people can speak frankly, openly, honestly – all bull aside – and tell them what the hell they think.
So, it’s an opportunity for some old people (um . . . rather, “youthfully challenged individuals”) to reflect a little, get some things off their chests, and maybe do some additional good for the world…
Bonus Party Topic
The process of forcing children
to memorize answers
to questions they haven’t asked yet.”
And, it’s an opportunity any young people, or even not-so-young people, to save themselves from the trouble of reinventing the wheel and making the same stupid mistakes people have been making ever since we were blobs. It’s the possibility that possibly, you can compress the accumulated wisdom (and mistakes) of thousands of years of people making these stupid mistakes, and having this when you’re still, say, twenty years old. In a sense, there’s the possibility of having the wisdom of an 80 year-old when you’re twenty.
“So the individual, now fully grown,
leaves our schools confused, lonely, alienated, lost, angry,
but with a mind full of isolated, meaningless facts
which together are laughingly called an education.”
– Leo Buscaglia
Even though “the only thing we know from experience is that we don’t learn anything from experience,” we figure, well, this would be an experiment worth running, even if those blasted kids never listen anyway.
“It is nothing short of a miracle
that instruction today has not strangled
the holy curiosity of inquiry.
For this delicate little plant lies mostly
in need of freedom without which
it will fall into rack and ruin and die without fail.
– Albert Einstein
“The strongest possible piece of advice
I would give to any young woman is:
Don’t screw around, and don’t smoke.”
– Edwina Currie
Please include your name, age, any interesting facts about yourself, your message (eg “Do not set dogs on fire, because they might run under your house”) the story of how you came to that conclusion (eg “I regret the time I set my dog on fire because he ran under my house. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t have done that.”), and anything else you want to include.
“If you want
to be a dear old lady at seventy,
you should start early,
say about seventeen.”
– Maude Royden (1876-1956)
(Note: This is different from ordinary nagging, in that it is based not on opinions of how things “ought” to be, but rather, experience (experiments and evidence) taken from real, based on real events and outcomes.)
while now you are young, and strong, and full of life,
do not waste your ripeness
as most do.
and makes the fresh weary.
Live strong and hard,
but spend it wisely.”
“As I’ve matured, I’ve learned
that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just assholes.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust,
and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.
I’ve learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes.
After that, you’d better have a big weenie or huge boobs.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others
– they are more screwed up than you think.
I’ve learned that you can keep puking long after you think you’re finished.
I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.
I’ve learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first,
the passion fades, and there had better be a lot of money to take its place.
I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away.”
“I failed algebra my freshman year of high school
and geometry my sophomore year.
Other than the embarrassment of flunking
and the fact that I had to retake both classes during summer school,
I remember not being all that worried.
I assumed I would never have any use for either discipline in my life.
I was right.
To this day, more than 30 years later,
I have never utilized anything from those two classes.”
– D. B. Gilles,
Professor, New York University
“Consider the facts. Most intelligent and responsible young people devote time and care to considering what “worldly” career to take up, before committing themselves. They weigh the advantages against the disadvantages of different callings. They take advice. They may even try out some of the options, testing the temp-erature of the vocational bathwater before jumping in. Few stumble by accident or negligence into the thick of a lifelong career.
But how different if and when those same intelligent and responsible young people come to what’s immeasurably more important, to choosing their spiritual profession!”
– excerpt from Douglas Harding, “The Cloverleaf Junction” in
To Be and Not To be: That Is The Answer
The type of contents in this section – compiling what we have all learned from experience – is perhaps the type of raw material that can lead to real morality…