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Archive for February 20th, 2014

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Having spent over six of the past eleven years working with high school students, I have been feeling old for quite awhile.

Lately, though, what I feel even more than old, is envy.

I don’t wish for their age on their driver’s license, what I envy is their idealism.

If you look up idealist in any dictionary, you will find synonyms like

visionary. dreamer. romantic. optimist.

If you look up the antonym (opposite) of idealist, you will find

realist. pragmatic.

not really motivating descriptors!

A teen can look at a problem, and issue, a goal and see it as possible. They do not see the inevitable

obstacles,

the costs,

the possible failure …

they see

the outcome,

the success,

the prize.

I am old … I struggle to see the prize clearly through my nearing-the-need-for-bifocals eyes.

When I look at a goal my eyes focus on a problem, an issue, a goal I immediately begin to envision the obstacles, costs and the other what-ifs that can lead to failure.

You see, at my great number of years, I have experience on my side, and that experience is what keeps me safe, protected …

ideal-free.

The experience of living life can create a survival instinct that prevents us from experiencing life fully.

That familiar quote, by that well-known scientist, Miss. Frizzle (the Magic School Bus), “take chances, make mistakes, get messy” needs to ring in my ears more often. I am afraid that I am becoming Arnold, the pragmatic on the show who always responded to her with “please let this be a normal field trip.”

I think that, if indeed King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, he was definitely not young when he did so. A reading of the third chapter, which is a constant contrast of opposites (a time to live and die, mourn and dance, to love and to hate) would ring familiar in the ears of any who has past the idealist, youthful years of life.

But the book, I believe, reminds us to live fully, maybe even idealistically, in the final chapter:

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young … Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.
Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1,6

Though we may feel old, we do not have life old.

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