Sunday 8 March 2015

Thought Picnic: Don't leave your youth behind

Riding through life
Being a passenger in a taxi cab is becoming a story of life and experiences seen through the keyhole of conversations that could last anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. I have heard of a death, a graduation, two operations, holidays, a retirement and many other tales of interesting careers before they took up driving.
The other day, I was picked up by a completely new driver from the firm that offers the service and in the process I found myself going through recollecting episodes and remembering names of the many others who have picked me up.
To think that I got to ten was quite revealing and yet from teacher to tearaway, policeman to cricketer and any other profession, I have found people who are everyday lovely and interesting people.
The end of one venture
On Friday, I bookended the taxi driving career of a man who had retired at 55, took to being a chauffeur and taxi cab driver and just 6 weeks after he turned 65, he decided his hackney carriage licence which comes up for renewal today should expire. He is going on to other interests you take up in retirement – going on holidays with his wife.
Whilst I somewhat lamented the change and the fact that the interaction with many strangers will end, he recalled his first job where he picked up two young ladies, how memorable that was and how for the conversations we used to have, my being his last passenger before he returns the car and waves goodbye to a decade of driving will be memorable too.
Embracing youth
What fascinated me is the way many people who are much older embrace change and sometimes embrace change faster, enthusiastically and better than the youth. The couple I bought my apartment in Amsterdam from, some over 13 years ago were in their late 70s, they had bought that apartment off a plan uncompleted after 25 years of living in Eindhoven in their early 70s and spent 3 wonderful years in Amsterdam.
She, the wife was the chairperson of the resident’s / owner’s association in a block of 63 apartments in a 19-storey apartment block. They left Amsterdam for an idyllic riverside serviced convalescence apartment in Arnhem. A place they bought off the proceeds of selling their Amsterdam apartment to me.
A state of the mind
What struck me was the youth adventure of doing something new and living happily in the present, unburdened by their past whilst lacking any apprehension for the future. Youthfulness is rarely a function of the chronological age, it is more a state of the mind.
That, I think is the wonder of youthfulness and it is infectious at any age if you allow yourself that freedom.
“Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.” George Bernard Shaw and as it happens, I did visit his house at Ayot St Lawrence in the 1990s. He died in 1950 at the age of 94.
The above quote is a better version than the more commonly quoted, “Youth is wasted on the young,” and I saw it on one of the boards outside the Bachelor Inn in Dublin, last year.

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