A small encounter I had today served as a reminder to actively try to be more present.
In the gym locker room, a middle-aged man, probably in his early 40’s, began talking to me. He asked how old I was, followed by a guess of 18. I corrected him and told him I had recently turned 19.
He went on to say that I should enjoy being young, and that time will go by super fast. He exclaimed repeatedly, to “enjoy your youth”, with a tone that I perceived as potential regret. I’m a fairly reserved person, so I nodded in agreement to signal I was listening but didn’t respond. He continued to share similar advice, as an older gentleman walked through the corridor. He then pointed at him and suggested, “Soon I’ll be like him, and you’ll be like me”, and began to smile. He then exited out into the gym, and I headed out my own way.
The encounter was brief, probably lasting a total of 45 seconds.
It did, however, resonate with me. I perceived regret, but also feelings of joy as this man reminisced. He looked at me, and I stood as a reminder of his past, when he was my age.
I normally have a strong aversion to harping on the past. I think this is an aversion to being present, and is effectively saying that the state of the past exceeds the state of the now, which I think is an unhealthy outlook.
In this case, though, it served as a reminder to be present. When I’m absent-minded, or simply going through the motions, time goes by unnoticed. In fact, the last 2 years have gone by extremely fast, and I’d attest that largely to being far less present as compared to the past. This reminder of enjoying my youth is important, but what I’ve really extracted from the conversation was to strive to be present during my youth.
I’m not scared of my youth passing – I’m more scared of passing my own youth.
That is, shifting into cruise control and just going through the motions. This is dangerous, as time will go by, experiences will be had, but no value is being created. I want to avoid this.
That being said, I don’t believe youth is a factor of your age, but more of the mentality, curiosity, and drive you carry around. I hope the youthfulness I possess is something innate, and not defined by my age.
What do I know though, I’m just a kid.