Stomping Grounds

I’m getting older. I used to believe that the connective tissue between the young me and the current me grew thinner with every year; the older I got, the more sure I was that the young me, and youth in general, did not have a lot to say to the older me.

I’m glad I’ve trashed that notion.

A girl named Becca Lou helped me trash it. So have Evan and Gray and Riley, and Ryan and Brooke, and Shaina and Phil, and Nikki; so have Darren and Nolan, and Daniel and the other Nikki–these young people I know whose lives stretch out before them like sun-skimmed water, an endless ocean heading for God, and, thrillingly, for God knows where; these guys help me revisit old stomping grounds. Through them, I realize that I used to

• Believe a little more deeply.
• Trust a little more quickly.
• Have a little more compassion.
• Have a little more fun.
• Throw a little more caution to the wind.

I think us older folk are sometimes afraid to look back on the hopes and the dreams we had in our younger days, maybe because we’re afraid to acknowledge that some of them didn’t pan out.

But take another look at my list. Something leapt on my own second pass, and here it is: not once, when I wrote that list from the hip, did I mention concretes. I did not list that maybe I imagined myself living in a log cabin on a lake by this time, or that I drove a certain car, or had a certain job. My gut wrote the list, not my intellect.

When I connect with the young people in my life, I am freshened to the stomping grounds that mattered most. I connect not with absolutes, but with spirit. I feel not a desire to “do it all over again, and this time do it right”, but to think on something else entirely.

These young folk have their twenties, thirties, and forties ahead. My fifties, sixties, and seventies stretch out before me. When I stay in touch with the young people in my life, and with the old stomping grounds they invoke, this is how I see the years ahead: sun-skimmed, and oceanic, and heading for God, and, thrillingly, for God knows where.

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