Monday, March 29, 2010

young and stupid

at its core, growing up is a process of learning about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. so that we can find a dream of the person we want to be, and start making our way towards becoming that person. invariably, this means someone who helps make the world a better place.

only thing is, it's not quite clear how we go about doing so. devoid of experience, bereft of knowledge, lacking in wisdom, we have no points of reference and hence no sense of judgment and thus no clues to understanding just how it is we're supposed to undertake our own growing up.

all we have to guide ourselves is the insights of others who have gone before us. which can be hard, which can be long, and which can be--even worse--uncertain. because growing up is a personal process, meaning that the lessons of others have to be relayed and transposed and adjusted and interpreted through the filters of time and language and culture and perception to make them relevant to us, and unfortunately, while there are truths that may be universal, their manifestation is ultimately very individual. what works for someone sometime somewhere may not work the same way for us.

and so, with the impetuousness and impatience that comes to anyone who feels they have not yet lived, we inevitably abandon the lessons. because we deem them too hard, too long, too uncertain.

instead, we turn to what we deem more easy, more short, more certain: ourselves. to do things our own way. to make our own mistakes. to try our own experiments. and let the process be our own education. because we believe that we can move faster and do more and discover greater on our own. and if anything goes wrong, then we reason that we can always aver responsibility and divert liability and absolve ourselves of all our sins with blithe abandon by simply hiding behind the excuse of just being young and stupid.

in some ways this is fine, because there are some things that can only truly be understood through the depths of personal experience, and experience must be accumulated through time.

in other ways, however, it's a problem, because it tempts us with the fallacy of a free license to do whatever we want whenever we want wherever we want to whoever why ever we want how ever we want.

and that's wrong.

because our lives, while they may be about ourselves, are not just about us. our decisions, our actions, have consequences not just on us but also on the world.

which means our mistakes have consequences on others around us. and so while we may believe that the damage to ourselves in our own youth and stupidity may be subsequently minimal and temporary, it may not be so to others for whom the stakes may be higher--far higher than we in our juvenile state can possibly comprehend.

in which case, our growing up is no longer a journey of development; it's a journey of carnage. it's no longer about improvement, but degradation. it's no longer about progression, but regression. it's no longer about construction, but destruction. not just for ourselves, but for others around us.

and that means we're not making life better; we're making it worse. instead of working to ease the suffering in the world, we're only acting to be the cause of it.

and by hiding behind the fallacy, behind the excuse, behind the lie, we continue it. we never change, we never grow up, we never become the person we were meant to be.

we just stay young and stupid.

growing up is a journey. it's not always easy. it's not always fun. it's not always pleasant. it is hard--at times impossibly so. it is long--at times unbelievably so. and it is most assuredly uncertain--at times incredibly, insanely, incomprehensibly so.

but that's why there can be no fallacies. no excuses. no lies. no shortcuts.

because the journey leads to one basic truth: at some point, you have to stop dreaming of the person you want to be, and you have to start being the person you want to be.

and that person is not about young and stupid and carnage and degradation and regression and destruction in us and others around us. that person is about making life better. that person is about easing the suffering in this world.

that person is about growing up.

and only by this will you find the greater truths that will ultimately make your life worth living--really living: yourself. this world. and your place in it.

1 comment:

Roger said...

hard lesson to accept but very true. Reminds me of a similar lesson at the end of last lecture. Perhaps you can share this with your next class?