The Northern Lights of Old [insert town which tugs your heart] are home sweet home to me.
Here I am this weekend stomping over old ground. Ghosts on every corner. When visiting a city we used to live in it’s hard to be present. We see the phone-box outside which we opened our first pay-cheque, the doorway which hosted our first kiss and the bars – oh the bars – where you bonded with your band of brothers at the age of 19.
It’s different for people of that age today. Students. Here they are with their lattes and laptops and LinkedIn. In my day you had a Mars bar, a can of Coke, a folder full of dog-eared notes and a nose for the pub. Members of this modern breed appear to me as young business people: stark in Starbucks with their focused focus groups. Maybe that’s what they want to present. Maybe it’s just harder for them: perennial millenials.
I’m Gen X/Y cusp, they say. Half my life ago, I started studying at the very university I spent yesterday afternoon hanging around, observing. Of course they’re different now. It’s 17 years since I rocked up on its doorstep.
The passage of time is humbling. I’m reminded now of that line in Baz Luhrmann’s Wear Sunscreen: The race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself.
These kids are focused, but do they know themselves? Do I, yet? Better than I did in 1997, that’s for sure. I’ve struggled today with accessing my inner peace (it left me this week) but I got there It’s scary, getting to know yourself. Meditation is scary. Relinquishing control is scary. The future is a beautiful mystery and what can we do about that but trust? When I sit with myself in silence my heart tingles and swoops and I wonder: what the hell is in there? What are the other levels I can discover?
These university students will learn that, with time, all the spreadsheets in the world won’t tell you who you are. It’s their right, though,as it was mine at that age, to exist on the external plane of what needs to be done. To have people approve. Joy comes in approval, it’s just finite.
And I guess that’s just fine when you’re 19.