I seem to be thrust into the lives of many 20-somethings lately in the midst of beginning to mourn my parents' looming mortality.
Perhaps the perspective of my folks' health difficulties roots my observations of youth. And I am somewhere – exactly – between. A place of being present leads me to look at these young adults with new eyes ... pupils that see wisdom in their inexperience. View the inexperience as fresh, unfiltered and an extraordinary lesson for me.
We're invited to a weekend gathering culminating in a Sunday fairy wedding outdoors on a carpet of rainbow petals and vows affirming the power of nature. And a reception where the 20-somethings only dance communally, continually inviting all into their vibrant circle. However, well before the wedding and reception came the get-acquainted picnic [simply and beautifully staged in a park shelter along the lake, lit with candles and strewn with gourmet goodies] and regular breakfasts at the inn with other wedding guests so that by Sunday, we really were family. There was such a sense of community that it felt like a village wedding with guests who, two days prior, had been complete strangers. I have never experienced that before. We were all really invested in this relationship, which is what drove the loving community that formed.
One of my favorite wedding stories came from the groom's father the morning after. He said when the couple was dropped at their hotel, they had nothing save the bride's small purse and their wedding clothes. Not even a credit card to confirm their reservation. They fearlessly assumed their attire would admit them. What wonderfully innocent confidence.
I used to have that and was reminded recently when that very phrase surfaced and resurfaced in my journal. It was always attached to the vigilant mother. The tense one on the lookout. I loved this example and embodiment of innocent confidence. I need a reminder model.
During the course of the wedding visit, we squeaked in time with my daughters' favorite baby sitter, whom they claim as their older sister. She's the most beautiful, fun, loving and creative person I know. She recently graduated from college in drama and works as a nanny. I look at her and she just oozes talent, yet can't find work in her field and bestows her talents on four very lucky toddlers. She's furnished her apartment via the finest area thrift stores and it works: spired clocks, Eastlake dressers, green-and-gold plush chairs and couch ... castoffs that have creatively been assembled into a home. One she shares with another amazing 20-something also seeking her way.
It reminds me of my life post college that, from this vantage, looks pretty tough. Yet I reveled in its freedom, simplicity, independence and responsibility. It's as if no one of another age existed in the world -- or at least no other perspective. The relish, enthusiasm, zest and joy was so evident, intoxicating and contagious in all of these 20-somethings.
As Harry said while dining with Sally: "I'll have whatever they're (she's) having."
• To whom do I look for wisdom?
• What can I gain from those younger than myself?
• What memory do they spark in me that needs to be rekindled?
• What zest can I revive?
• How can I be the right balance of a 20-something in an older-something body?