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To the Next Generation

We will inevitably bequeath to you everything. All our worldly possession, all our wisdom and all our problems and all our successes. This page is just one middle age man getting started ahead of time. 

Words to the Young

I am not old yet. I am certainly not young anymore either by internet standards. At 45 I am comfortably slightly past the middle point of life, and I have many who look at me and think I’m young and in the peak of health, and others who look up at me and think, “wow that is old.”

I have recently had more interactions with those in a position younger than me than I normally do, and I have come to realize an unusual value that I want to talk about that comes in two parts. I recently spoke about the contraction of life as we get older.

There is no mystery that grandparents are spryer, more alive, and more like their younger selves when their grandchildren or greatgrandchildren are around. But I have been thinking about something closer to my age bracket.

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When I look ahead in my life, I see advancement, hope, and possibility, but I see less of it than when I was younger. This is not a negative thing. I have sacrificed possibility on the altar of reality, to become who I am. I had to, as all well adjusted adults do. We can’t hover forever between things, waiting to see, or someday we find we are nothing. But in that loss of possibility our horizons, if not shrink they certainly change in scope. The people in my world who are younger than say twenty, are very different. They can still be almost anything.

So, when I speak with them, I find what can only be described as infectious hope. They want to go do things they haven’t done, and it reminds me of the things I have yet to do. But there is a more important piece which I have noticed only recently. There is an effect on the old, if we are right, and careful that what we say to the younger generation matters more by far than what we say to each other.

The mind of an adult is fairly well formed, the mind of a teenager is not finished yet.

 

Every word you say goes into this complex self-assembling machine that is still working to figure out what he or she wants to be in the world, and if you instill a grain of falsehood it can damage them in a way that you can not do to adults. There has never been a more important time to pick your words carefully, remember your facts, and straighten out your truths because you are saying them to the next generation.

Why is this about “The old need the young?” if this is about the middle age and elderly imparting wisdom, and knowledge? The answer is because we all too often forget to sharpen our thoughts, sharpen our words, and pick them very carefully when we deal with our peers. Our relationship with the next generation reminds us to have a reason for all that we say. “Because,” is not a reason. If we live our lives correctly the next generation reminds us to defend our stance reasonably, to help them and speak the truth and act to them as best we know them.

Because someday, they will run the world. What kind of world will it be?

We Need You

                I am not young, but by most measures I am not yet old. I am in that sweet spot of middle age. I am wiser than those who look up to me, and still more physically able than my elders, but this won’t be the scenario forever.

                Someday I am going to become weaker, forgetful, and slower. My body will begin to fail me as will my mind. I will need a cane someday or a walker. When that day comes, like the countless generations before me, I will be afraid to fall down. I will walk carefully, pick my path and look for handrails. I will store away names and events in safe deposit boxes of my mind scared to lose them, and when things happened will become more and more important as I realize there is so much less ahead than behind.

                On that day I want to look around and see the next generation doing well. So, for a brief moment I am speaking to everyone younger than me today, and every parent, brother, sister and friend of someone who is younger.

                We need you. We need you to be good at things. No. We need you to be great. We need you to be strong, and to be willing to work for the world. Not just working for you, but working for all of us. I have tried to, my father tried to, my mother tried to. But it isn’t our time anymore. It’s becoming your time.

                Work will be hard, that’s why it is work, but happiness isn’t found in shying away. Happiness and satisfaction are found in the push. The world is going to feel unfair but that’s because it is unfair no matter who you are. It has always been unfair and it always will be unfair. This is not a besmirchment of the way the world works; this is the nature of biology. Some people are born smarter, faster, stronger, prettier, more logical or more artistic. How terrible would it be if we were all the same? Just average. Far better for there to be pillars in our society at their tasks, because you can be a pillar too. If you try. The world rewards excellence, not average.

                This trying isn’t going to be quick. Trying will not be that you worked hard for a few weeks or even months. Trying is going to be years. Trying is going to be a kind of effort you may not have ever experienced before, but I am begging you to push through the difficulties because we need you.

                Your parents, your friends, your siblings, and strangers like me are going to get old, and we will need help. We need you to run the world when we are gone. We need you to help us gracefully to our curtain call. We need you to create the art. We need you to do the science. We need you to be kind when we have forgotten how, and dementia steals our faculties.

                We need you…

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