Youth and the Guiding Stars of Age



So if we are blessed with the liberated spirit aura of youth profound, it is only with the fading twilight of a new day that releases the wisdom of a keen myriad of ancient guiding stars.  
Eduardo Barbudo ‘87

Maybe I am just too old to address this topic.


I am not embarrassed to admit to a world of readers that I find myself watching singing performances of the young, aged between 15 and 25 on a popular American talent show. I have listened to music, all genres of music since my earliest years. But each week, I am amazed that the young performers sing with deep emotion of love lost or love gained, sing of hearts crushed by frailty or spirits made buoyant by a rush of wings unseen.

They sing with soul. They sing with blues. They sing with the joys of a life spent in pursuit of definition.

They are 15. I think at 15 I was trying to build the courage to ask Karen Sutterfield to dance with me at an afterschool function. I may have ridden 4 miles from home to grab a quick ice cream cone, always feeling the tug of my neighborhood as it withdrew further and further from me.

I had no soul. I had no blues. I sought no definition. I was 15.

Recently in an online writers group, several writers described what drove their desires to write. What forced them into the solitude pursuits of writing?

Some spoke that they had been writing steadily since they were 10 years old. They spoke of writing wistful tales of love and the challenges of humanity in a world gone mad. Now in their advanced years of 15, 16, 17,18, even as old as 20 years old, they struggled with the peccadilloes of life. Their words spoke of deep chasms of love, voids of acceptance and offerings of a path for those readers of their work.

I may be old or I may be older. But I recognize that we do not all share the same life experience that will allow us the facility or the capacity to extend guidance to our readership. I realize some have been raised starving, unable to provide for themselves and were forced to scratch out a survival existence.

I realize that some of these young writers have faced sexual abuse or drug addiction. These most difficult of life’s challenges have tendencies to age a young writer’s spirit or allow perspectives of a world that painfully envelopes them to mature rapidly. Artists and the spiritual age of artists are forced to bloom well beyond their physical age.

But there appears no overwhelming sense that these young writers or even the young performers are plagued by the tortuous flames I speaking of. They seem to lack a certain maturity or manner that would define them as spirits beyond their age.

I wonder how poignant their perspective. I do not question their sincerity, but I do question their motivation. I question the ability to represent the depth of the human spirit. I question that other than play-acting the emotional expressions while they deliver their songs, that they have little ability to warrant an sincere acceptance fueled by their experience.

I was even further angered by a young writer who maintained that since her Instructor had told them to disregard any sexism in the publishing world. That her “ideas” were formed by her professors in her Junior College and she was not about to alter them.

Although I don’t know the Entertainment Industry but I have heard over the years, young performers disregard the advice of the judges, of the established musicians and of the successful coaches so they could “follow their own heart.”

In both cases, I believe they have failed miserably.

Can anyone share how could these writers and performers possess a depth of emotion and still be 15 or 16 or 17 or 18 or even…shudder 20 years old? Is it possible to have this depth of sensibility not be from a horrid war zone or hopeless poverty or raised by rabid raccoons or crack-addled parents?

I accept their true innocence. I accept innocence of youth, but they should recognize true innocence.
I accept that I may be speaking from an ethnocentric or Americo-centric position and other realities in other parts of the world are certainly different. I would certainly appreciate the words of a Syrian refugees child washed to the Greek shores of Lesvos over a JC student from Pikes Peak, Colorado.

As a side note, I believe that we create, we write, we sing, we create, from something that surfaces from our past experience. I believe it is impossible for us to create something that we have absolutely any exposure or knowledge.  My example is always the fact that the society of the Polynesian Islands had no words for cols or ice or snow until the Japanese and American warriors of WW2 landed on their shores bringing with them refrigeration.

Nowhere in their culture had anyone ever sang of cold, of ice, of freezing snow.

Yes, we can imagine science fiction. We can perceive life on distant planets and project life in the future, but there will always be a seed of reality, a grain of current truth.

Hopefully in both cases, these young writer and performers learn from their challenges of inexperience. I hope that they use their ambitious desires to construct a path to lead us to the truth, to follow an arduous road built of age and experience and time to forge a better understanding of the future.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s