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« Drillium and Bottom Bracket Cutouts | Main | The Haunted Fish Tank »

Is youth wasted on the young?

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (Above.) is generally credited with the quote, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I see the quote as a truism, our physical ability declines with age, as our knowledge through experience increases.

Take relationships for example. All the screw-ups and mistakes made in the past make us knowledgeable. We learn what to do, and often more important what not to do. We learn which types of personalities and situations to avoid in relationships.

So imagine if we had all that knowledge when we were young and still had our good looks and energy. But that is not how it works. The quote cannot be turned around to read, “Age is wasted on the old.” Even if we take age to mean wisdom or experience. Because wisdom or experience is never wasted.

The reason I keep writing here, it is exercise for my mind. Activity, both physical and mental are so important, even more so as one gets older. Writing here causes me to think. If others come here and read my sometimes inane scribblings, and it makes them think, that is a huge bonus. I learn through the feedback and comments of others, and even have been known change my thinking.

My last piece for example, about short attention span. I came to realize, there is so much information on the Internet that we can’t possibly take it all in. If I read something that doesn’t inform me or entertain me, I will not spend time reading it, but will click away to something else.

“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Another good one attributed to Shaw. Deepak Chopra ran with a similar idea,

“People don’t grow old, they become old when they stop growing.”

The only way to grow mentally as I see it, is to change my thinking occasionally. If one clings to a certain mindset, there can be no possibility of growth. Keep an open mind so there is room to put new stuff in it.

Every generation has its ruination. Today it is cell phones, in my day it was Rock ‘n Roll. By the 1960s they had added Sex and Drugs to the equation. Back in the day safe sex was a padded headboard, and the worst STD you could get could be cured with a shot of penicillin. I feel sorry for today’s generation in that respect.

The drug induced haze lasted through the 1970s and into the 1980s. Still goes on to a certain extent, no wonder the world is a mess. It’s not that Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll, were inherently bad, it was overindulgence that was the mistake. The same is true today, the Internet, cell phones, and social media are not essentially bad, it is overuse to extremes that is the problem. 

If a person can’t turn a phone off and set it aside for a short period while they drive somewhere, they don’t just have a problem, they have an addiction. 

Today’s younger generation is not going to listen to an old guy like me, any more than I would have listened to my elders in my youth. But they should, because a person can learn from their own mistakes, or learn from the mistakes of others.

Learning from the mistakes of others is all gain without the pain. If you are young hang with old people, and if you are old like me, hang with young people. But the key is, young or old, to hang with “Interesting” people. Try to visualize the future and realize there is a life after 30 or 40. In fact the older you get the better it gets.

Or rather the better it can get. Happiness is there for the taking, but you won’t find it through drugs, sex, money, job or relationship. Happiness is a choice, so simply choose it, and all else will fall into place. All it takes is the right attitude.

“Life is a journey, and attitude is like a bicycle. A good one makes the ride easier and more enjoyable.”

That is one of my quotes, 


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Reader Comments (11)

"Happiness is there for the taking, but you won’t find it through drugs, sex, money, job or relationship. " - Never a truer word said Dave.

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStephen McAteer

Well said Dave ! Great post today !

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Nice post!

It also reminded me of another phrase:

"Only the young die young"

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterheltonbiker

...and another one (and sorry for dilluting a bit the depth of meaning of this post):

"Life has three phases:
In the first one, you have health and time, but not money;
In the second one, you have health and money, but no time;
In the third one, you have money and time, but no health."

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterheltonbiker

"We get too soon old and too late smart."

Youth knows all.
Middle age suspects all
Old age believes all.

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermike w.

I can’t think of one thing that the Internet can teach about how to ride a bike. By that I mean ‘How to Ride a Bike’: with panache, with class, with style, with power, speed, tact, skill, and, with your own personality.
I learned to race before the Internet, just as all the greats did. In spite of all the electronic gadgets attached to the bike and rider, in spite of sites such as Strava and bike forums, try to think of one racer who is great because of them.

Anyone, anyone…

So, how do neophytes learn today?

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Great post Dave.

My mate from Belfast quotes this on a regular basis, usually when he has hammered all and sundry up a hill.

From a poem by Grantland Rice.

“For when the One Great Scorer comes
To mark against your name,
He writes - not that you won or lost -
But HOW you played the Game.

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

I think that's so many of us who are older are enjoying our cycling more than ever - something that brings us back to our youth, and helps keep us young.
Dave, you haven't posted much on your riding. I hope you're still getting out there and enjoying it!

August 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEd

As to habitual cell phone usage being an addiction, why aren’t they a controlled device? Some of the signs of addiction, whether to drugs or alcohol, or anything, are dependence, interfering with one’s life and work, changes in personality and behavior, attitudes towards friends and family, physical changes in oneself.

Geeze, these and more things are encouraged and promoted on the Web!

Compare the World Wide Web to the calculator. One assisted a person, the other controls a person. That is not how it started in 1993. But it has evolved into what people wanted it to become. Most people want to be controlled, to be told what to think and do. Like learning how to race bicycles, it is too much work to think critically, and they fear drawing their own opinions.
I saw that with high-precision machining in the 90’s. No one wanted to put the 10 years into becoming experienced. You Dave, saw it with the bicycle industry, heading East, to Taiwan to have bikes built. Those jobs aren’t coming back. People don’t want them.

And that my friend, is why today is in fact different than when we were young.

August 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Yes, yes it is and when they get older they will know it too! Ha ha!

August 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

Cicero accurately describes it thus, "Everyone wants to see old age, then complain when they get there." But in terms of advice to the young:

“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;

For Life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial's hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.”

― Jessie B. Rittenhouse

Thank you for your excellent blog.

September 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Purfeerst

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