Thursday, January 04, 2007


Spotting a man dressed and acting about 20 years below his apparent age got me thinking about the choices we make, and inparticular the choice to leave behind the past and move forward to the future.

Since the swinging sixties, successive generations have convinced themselves that they can postpone growing up and moving on. That, if they defiantly strike enough infantile poses, fall for the latest preposterous fad, or express opinions the rest of us have dumped long ago, they will avoid ever having another birthday. US psychiatrists call these people "adultescents"; at their best, they are Peter Stringfellow. The irony is that the very things most of us loved about youth - lack of responsibility, the illusion of freedom - are the very things that the adultescent ultimately deprives himself of.

Those who do allow themselves to make that change discover that they are more likely to become masters of their own destiny. Once you stop hanging onto your past like a drowning man to a piece of driftwood, you suddenly discover you have a future. You also discover that, rather than having fewer choices, you actually have a multitude of possibilities. Perhaps the single most interesting choice you face is what parts of your past to leave behind and what to take with you.

There are rules. It's perfectly respectable for a 40-year-old lawyer to pogo around in his room to Never Mind The Bollocks. It's a lot harder for the same man to swagger around slapping high-fives with every young person he passes. The first looks like fun. The second looks like a way of life that's no sort of life at all.

Like the Katharine Hamnett T-shirts that used to say, "Choose Life," make the choices that give you even more choices - that make life more fun, more challenging, and, above all, one a hell of a lot easier to live.

1 comment:

sandegaye said...

Very good advice! Letting go of the past is a very good beginning..