Taking Youth For Granted – Part 1

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There’s a saying I used to hear quite frequently when I was a teenager, which was, “Youth is wasted on the young.” What’s funny is that I can’t remember who used to say it, but I heard it enough times that it seeded in my brain as part of my belief system as I got older. The feeling of being invincible, and the illusion that time is limitless, can fool youngsters into thinking that all the opportunities which they are flooded with will always be there. They may be too busy having fun and partying to build a foundation for the future. Though I had enough common sense to keep myself out of trouble most of the time when I was younger, I had moments when I would do something foolish or rash, and in those moments, I would jeopardize my own chances of success. However, despite the times I stumbled, I was able to accomplish more than the average young adult, so perhaps youth wasn’t completely wasted on someone like me.

I have come across some very disciplined young adults who were able to explore and develop their talents without trudging into the muck of ambivalence and laziness. They were obviously encouraged by parents and educators to formulate dreams and pursue related goals. These impressive overachievers definitely didn’t waste their youth, but have transformed their vibrant energy, passion, and creativity into lofty achievements. They also have shown a tendency to create a real impact on others through their ingenuity, their compassion, and their drive, and by doing so, have become leaders who will leave a true legacy.

There’s an odd and delicate balance which young people are challenged to figure out. Though they are encouraged to grab life by the horns and go for it, they are also expected to have the sense to pace themselves and stick to the straight and narrow course during a time when distractions and temptations abound. It’s no mystery why some twenty-somethings may find themselves in a situation in which they have to repair their finances, become centered, and undo all the damage which playing or partying too much can create. I know I wouldn’t want to be a youngster again, and I certainly wouldn’t want to experience my youth in this day and age.

The best advice I can give to someone who is young is to BUILD FOR THE FUTURE. Sure, it can be fun to party on the weekends and hobnob with the movers and shakers in the social media world, but make sure you are working towards goals which enable you to grow as a person, which ensure financial stability for the future, and which give you a platform on which you can impact the world. Make sure that you are doing things that your parents can be proud of, and which your future children won’t be embarrassed by. Everything you do has some sort of impact, even if that impact is only on yourself.

After Bad Comes Good

I have heard my mother and my aunts and uncles share stories about my grandmother, whom they all adored. They have all spoken of her unflagging kindness and compassion, and of her wisdom. One thing she was prone to saying frequently in Japanese was, “Don’t worry, after bad comes good.” For those of you who are curious about this quote in Japanese, here it is: “Shinpai shinai de. Subete umaku iku ne.” This statement can also be translated to English as, “Don’t worry, everything will be all right.”, but everyone in the family insists on “Don’t worry, after bad comes good.” as the unwavering message my grandmother was known for. She truly felt that good things ALWAYS followed bad things.
Buddha Kumamoto
I find this quote from my frail, tiny (4’8″) Japanese grandmother, who incidentally bore FIFTEEN children and lived through countless hardships and poverty before dying of cancer at the age of 63, to be incredibly wise and reassuring. Whenever someone in the family was concerned about a troubling event, my grandmother would utter this statement and smile.

It seems to me that my grandmother’s sense of calm and joy about the world and her ability to enjoy the simplest things despite living without many creature comforts made her more aware than most, and thus more spiritually enlightened. It is probably part of the reason why her journey on this planet did not last very long. Sadly, she passed away before I was born, so I never had a chance to meet this remarkable woman. My mother tells me that I have my grandmother’s eyes, and I can see that when I look at photos of her. Though she was full-blooded Japanese, she had large, round eyes with the telltale Asian skinfold called the epicanthic fold which I also have.

I try to remember that with every challenging or stressful situation, that it too will pass.