Monday, May 23, 2011

Youth is wasted

Some old guy once said "Youth is wasted on the young." This is supposed to imply that it's impossible to truly appreciate youth until you no longer have it. I would challenge this assumption, and even argue that the opposite is true: no one is better-suited for youth than the young.

As evidence, I would cite observational data: Have you ever seen a young person? They're running all over the place, trying to experience as many fun things as possible in the short amount of time they have. Children know instinctively they won't be young forever. That's why whenever you see a child at church, or in school, or some other place they don't want to be, they can't sit still. They have no patience. Every precious minute they're not playing and enjoying their childhood to the fullest is like torture to them.

is a season 5 episode of South Park that features a pot-smoking anthropomorphic towel. One of the running gags in the episode is the four kids calculating the number of consecutive hours they can continue playing video games before they have to go to school, or do any other activity that doesn't involve video games.

This desire to whittle one's life down to only the activities one enjoys most is emblematic of childhood. Only someone who has experienced so little time as a child can see the flawed logic in this approach to time management. For an adult, instant gratification all the time only brings eventual disappointment. Only children know how to appreciate that, because they intuitively understand another epigram that needs a few words cut out of it: Time flies.


Austin said...

What prompted you to write this? I'm guessing either an energetic little Pichu or kids you teach.

The "old guy" mentioned is George Bernard Shaw. I would say show the old guy some respect, but I don't really care for Shaw, and he's dead anyway.

You make a good point, but I personally think he meant it's wasted on the young not because they don't appreciate it, but they don't understand or appreciate it to its fullest capability. I used to love running and thought I was rather good at it, but due to circumstances beyond my control I am no longer physically capable, and now that I am incapable I realize what a tremendous experience it was and how much I miss it.

Though by following that thinking he could have just as easily said talent is wasted on the talented or intelligence is wasted on the intelligent, which is just plain silly.

Wendy McMillan said...

This is why I don't want my kids growing up on phones, laptops and gaming consoles. I'd say things like the outdoors are wasted on the young.

Wendy McMillan said...

And yes I realize my profile pic is the Master Chief from Halo so don't bother pointing that out to me. Adults can do whatever they want.

Jacob I. McMillan said...

Austin, two things inspired this blog: the above-mentioned South Park episode, and a trip to the water park, where children are apparently required to run from one place to another at top speed the whole time they're there.

I grant that I may have misinterpreted the original quote for my own purposes, but I think it's a quote that is generally misinterpreted anyway. Plus part of me feels like it's impossible not to waste youth, by design. It just feels kind of redundant to say so.

Wendy, I loved the outdoors as a kid and our children will too.