Monday, March 30, 2015

Corner the Market: The Convictions of Youth

Youth has the market cornered on truth.
I have a tendency to surround myself with intelligent people.  I like their conversation and ideas, usually accompanied by sarcasm and dry wit.  People who think quickly on their feet entertain me and inspire me. I appreciate that.  I like it when people make me think. My friends come in all shapes and sizes, with varying ethnic backgrounds, ages, sexual orientations, education levels and religions, but they all have the common denominator of being deep thinkers with strong convictions.

I have one friend who likes to get into debates about anything and everything. He often plays the devil's advocate just to see how people will react.  More often, however, he likes to argue because he thinks he's right. At twenty-five years old he has all the righteous conviction of youth.  One of the more entertaining aspects of our conversations is attempting to get him to consider different perspectives.  Occasionally it can be like pulling teeth from a chicken, both frustrating and impossible.

The other day I debated with him on an issue I can't even recall.  What I do remember, however, is how adamantly he defended his position, never thinking of other possible interpretations and views.  He reminded me of me when I was twenty-five--so certain that I had the market cornered on truth, justice and morality.  My, how things have changed.

At twenty-five, I was a good daughter, a good student, a good friend, and a good wife.  I did and said all the right things for which I received praise and admiration. At forty-two, I don't classify myself by those identifiers. I don't even know if I am "good" anymore and I don't care if I receive praise. The the thing is....I am better person than I used to be, and  I like that much more than simply being good.

At this age, I am peaceful and centered.  I'm more humane and forgiving.  I'm not nearly as self-righteous, uptight or judgmental as I used to be.  Time and experience have mellowed me, have made me really think about what is important in life and who is important in life.  I believe that kindness should be a guiding compass for all behaviors.  I think that if a person moves from a place of love and pure intent, he or she can be truly happy. People can have their own joy and celebrate the joy of another without jealousy or judgment clouding it. Once I adopted those beliefs, I moved away from the superficial appearance of goodness into living goodness.

Don't get me wrong, I still have my convictions about things.  I'm not all-accepting of everything. I have non-negotiables that I've held onto regarding what I believe to be right and wrong. But like a long-simmering sauce, those convictions have been reduced, strengthened and clarified. All the other BS has floated to the surface to be skimmed off and tossed away. One of the compensations for losing the physical vitality of youth is that increasing mental, spiritual, and emotional vitality we experience as we age.

My friend has some amazing ideas and thoughts, and I'm privileged to help him explore them.  I am grateful to be his friend, just as he is right this minute. But I keep thinking, how amazing he's going to be in twenty years, when he's had time and experience to enhance and refine his thoughts and qualities. I look forward to debating him then too.  I'm sure it will be a good one.