Sunday, February 07, 2016

I, too, was young once ... not too long ago

Re-posting this from two years ago

"Did you watch the game, Dr. Khé?" asked a student when the class met on Monday.  A warm-up of a different kind before we got into discussing the learning materials. It was, of course, the joshing small-talk time.  So, nothing about what I did during the Super Bowl.

(If students were to read my blog, perhaps they will wonder why I am being so not revealing anything about myself in the classroom when I do that in a lot more public manner here in the blog. If they do, I bet they have also figured out why.)

During the conversation with the two women, when I asked the older woman about her growing up years, they remarked about how they, too, were young once.

That was a profound comment, I thought. As Ken Robinson noted in his hilarious, and thought-provoking, talk, we don't imagine Shakespeare as having been a kid once and giving his parents and teachers quite some grief, especially with his English!  When we see, meet with, people who are "old," we so easily think of of them as nothing but old. A grandma is a grandma is a grandma to us.  But, that grandma, too, was once a young girl, who ran and played and cried like any of us.

Over the winter break, when talking with my mother's aunt, I asked her about her childhood. It was back in the old ancestral village, in a traditional and orthodox Brahmin household. After she "came of age," the norms then precluded her from playing outside with other kids--even girls. She wasn't even allowed to sit on the steps outside and watch others play. It was a house-arrest of sorts!  That is a small piece about her childhood. But, it says a lot, doesn't it? About her life then. That she longed to play with other kids and she could not.

Every once in a while, in the obituary pages of our local newspaper, the photo of the "old" person who died is accompanied by a photo of that same person much earlier in their life. I have no idea what message they wish to convey, but to me the message is always the same: it is not merely the old person who died. That young person they once were also died. The kid that they once were also died. It is, after all, the kid who became a teenager, who grew into an adult, became old, and died.

Young we might be today, but we too will be nothing but old in the future--if we live that long.  Imagine if you were seen by others as nothing but an old man or an old woman, as if your lively and energetic childhood and youth and middle age never existed at all!

As this wonderful song from Romeo and Juliet put it,
A rose will bloom;
it then will fade
so does a youth;
so does the fairest maid
Nothing new, yes. As Yeats wrote, "That is no country for old men."


Anne in Salem said...

Some are blessed to maintain a youthful attitude throughout life, no matter the physical age. They are the lucky ones.

Some are old well before their time and are the hardest to imagine ever being youthful. They might be pitied.

Some, when released from the various burdens in life, recapture their youth at a somewhat advanced age. They are sometimes envied.

It is difficult, no matter which type a person is, to imagine that person staring in amazement for the first time at an ant carrying a tremendous crumb or rounding third hoping for a home run or nervously asking a girl/waiting for a boy to ask her to dance. We are supposed to control such impulses as we mature, or so we are taught. Perhaps the wisest ones balance both youth and maturity. Perhaps "because I wanted to" and "because I wanted to see what would happen" are valid reasons, no matter what our parents said!

Ramesh said...

Yup; the dimension of time is the most difficult to fathom. If travel in that dimension were to become possible ......

As Anne says, the wisest are those who balance youth with maturity.

Sriram Khé said...

"a youthful attitude throughout life, no matter the physical age" and "balance youth with maturity" ... yep, a simple formula but apparently a difficult one to implement ...

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