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By: Jay Williams
“Every generation blames the one before.
And all of their frustrations come beating on your door.”
Lyrics from “The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics
I guess it’s inevitable that frustrations get passed on between different generations. I wish it weren’t that way. But it seems to me that part of the circle of life is a gradual move from the idealism of youth to the realism of life experience.
That move is what eventually leads each generation to say, “You guys screwed it up, and now we have to deal with the mess that’s left behind.”
The usual response to that is, “We did the best that we could at the time, given the circumstances that we faced.”
I’m not sure that’s an appropriate response. I know for a fact that it’s not always an honest one. But to use a cliché that I absolutely hate…it is what it is. Life happens. Mistakes get made. Messes get created. And the next generation is forced to deal with them as part of their reality.
But long before life’s reality officially sets in…before any of us are forced to tackle those big-picture issues…there is a period of time that I consider to be magical.
It’s that time in a young person’s life when they are in “I can change the world” mode. A time when they have chosen a course of action for themselves…found something that they are truly passionate about…and the world is at their fingertips.
I love that time in life. I remember it for me. I am starting to see it in my children. My daughter recently started a new job where she gets to put her creative ability to work through graphic design. She got that artistic creativity from her mother. It certainly didn’t come from me. It takes me two tries and a ruler just to draw a straight line. But my daughter has an eye for the creative. She is on step one of her journey to wherever.
One of my sons dreams of opening his own business some day. He’s not sure yet what business that is. But the idea of starting something of his own excites him.
His twin brother thinks medicine is his calling. He wants to be a trauma surgeon. This summer he will attend a National Student Leadership Conference at Rice University for more than a week of interactive programs in the field of medicine. He is so excited, he can barely contain himself.
Last Friday night I attended the production of a one-act play in which my niece was one of the main performers. She is a senior in high school this year. COVID has disrupted her senior year in too many ways to count. But as I sat in that auditorium and watched her and her cast mates perform, I was in awe. And not just because of the British accent that my niece absolutely nailed.
The play itself is from the “Theater of the Absurd” genre. Much of it is nonsensical by design. But the content isn’t what left me teary-eyed. What struck me was the passion with which they performed. For months they have poured their proverbial blood, sweat, and tears into this production. And it has paid off. They won first place at their district competition. They are now rehearsing for the next level in two weeks.
Friday night was senior night…the final performance that this group of seniors will ever give at Nacogdoches High School. After the play, gifts were exchanged between the senior students and their drama teachers. Tears were shed. No one…not a single one of them…was able to make it through their speech without getting emotional. And they all said one version or another of the same thing, “These people on stage with me are family.”
My niece is a talented performer. She says the theater is in her future. She is as certain of that as any 17-year-old is certain of anything. That is the magic of youth. And there are few things in life that make me happier.
You can reach Jay Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.