YOUTH AND AGE
YOUTH AND AGE
I have recently been engaged in a long and at some times, somewhat heated discussion with a fellow poet who I suspect is considerably younger than I am.
Come to that I suspect that most people are considerable younger than I am.
My friend does not like my style of writing but that’s O.K because on that score the feelings are mutual.
The comforting thing is that we were not discussing politics, class distinctions, race relations or any of the other subjects people get heated about. We were discussing poetry. In this troubled world while people do that there is hope for us yet.
Since the dawn of time there has been a ceaseless battle. It is a very strange battle because as newcomers join in others in one camp gradually change sides. It is the battle of life between young and old.
For the young man full of enthusiasm and vigour life is a clean slate. In the immortal words of Delboy ‘The world is his lobster’ whatever he hopes for he can achieve. He may have visions of saving the world he should not be discouraged for he may succeed.
Mozart started writing memorable music when he was so young he could not reach the harpsichord pedals. He died at a very early age from an illness which today could be cured thanks to the pioneering work of other young men of vision. We will never know what the world missed.
There are two adages which neatly sum up our fate. ‘No one said that life was fair’ and ‘the only certain things in life are death and taxes.’
Many young people are disheartened at an early age by lack of educational achievement. They get a sense of inferiority because others are cleverer academically than they. This can lead to resentment and anti-social behaviour.
Unemployment, poverty, marital and extra-marital discord, alcoholism and the misuse of drugs can have disastrous effects on a person’s hopes and aspirations but must be overcome to survive. ‘No-one said that life was fair.’
I was a child of the war. I only went to school half a day while evacuees were taught during the other half. I received my education at an elementary school and left when I was thirteen.
I certainly have no claim to fame but I have had a good fulfilling life and have no regrets. I can quote a number of very successful people who were academically poor; Churchill for instance.
I have friends who were alcoholics and have successfully kicked the habit. Others whose marriages or relationships broke up in acrimony are now in a happy partnership some of them with their original partner. Another adage ‘The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
For many others the journey of life is, alas, a short one through illness or man’s inhumanity to man.’
One cannot but be saddened by the wasteful loss of young lives in Afghanistan and other trouble spots.
For most we must survive making the best of what life throws at us and learn to in Kipling’s words ‘Meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.’
It is a truism that the older one becomes the more one resents change. People become set in their ways. They become more suspicious of new innovations and with the benefit of hindsight seek to warn others of the pitfalls which may befall them.
No one likes to be told what to do, especially the young. They will most probably ignore advice given to them and thank goodness they do because if they hadn’t we would still be living in caves and scratching pictures on rocks.
Whenever someone says we’ve tried it and it can’t be done’ ignore them.
Today’s world is an even greater challenge to the old than to the young. Children today are taught from an early age to master the wonderful new technology whilst we oldies have to tackle the alien world of the computer and the micro-chip. Flat mobile phones, which, because of our failing memory we have forgotten to charge; Remote controls which hide themselves down the back of settees and so on.
Many older people cannot or will not adapt and miss out on so much because of it.
I started writing about poetry. Somehow during our discussion the poem ‘DAFFODILS’ BY William Wordsworth was mentioned.
As I remarked it is probably indisputably the most famous poem ever written. Why? On the face of it it is a simple poem. It doesn’t tackle any deep or profound subject. It is not about human love or heroic endeavour. It is not even funny. So why is it important to so many of us?
I think it is because, no matter what life throws at us there are moments when if we have eyes to see we can appreciate the beauty of the world we live in and can store those moments in our memory to lift our spirits and brighten our existence.
‘And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils.’