It was the night of a year-end. We were on the road in San Francisco, showing a New Yorker friend this city in night. Between the ocean and the sky there was no gap- they both were tucked in a blanket of fog. The city was so silent that we could hear our breath.
I turned on the radio. Next channel. Next..And I then finally stopped at the one that was playing Fun’s “We are young.” I liked the song for three years, though it was not that remarkable to last that long. The part “Tonight/ We are young/So let’s set the world on fire/we can burn brighter/Than the sun” made me go back to my younger years that night, and many evenings after that. It was also the time when I was almost at the end of my twenties and thirty looked pretty scary. Who doesn’t want to stay young forever!
Now I love being in thirty. But I look back often to my years of youth too- especially teen age when I was working hard to live my dreams and the early twenties when I got myself my first job at one of those companies of my dream in a completely new city.
My youth did not look like a Disney movie, or sitcoms around Carrie Bradshaw’e life. It was a normal starting pad. I made some of the best friends during that phase. I learned the complexity and versatility of this world. The world seemed smaller than it appeared earlier. I spent time backpacking for trips to mountains, wild life safari, national parks, and cities and small towns that I wanted to see. I spent silent evenings at monasteries and prayed at a church. I went to temple with my friend who wanted every God’s help to get married to her boyfriend. I found love in my best friend. I got married.
Normally that’s how every good movie ends. Only life is not a three hour long movie.
There are thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and hopefully decades thereafter. This journey doesn’t stop. Sometimes I pause a little to get trapped in time, and contemplate. Was everything the way I wanted it to be? Was I happy when I was young? Was my youth only about studies, preparations, trips, photo albums, laughter, movie reviews, window shopping?
In retrospect, life always looks glossier. But I sit with a highlighter pen to mark mistakes. I wish I devoted all my hours to studies. I wish I read more books. I wish I wasn’t a friend of those people who changed after a decade. I wish I could tell my friends that external beauty wouldn’t matter later. I wish I could go to quiz competitions more. I still miss them. I wish I could learn about inner peace from my dad. I wish I could spend more time with my parents. I wish I could slow down all clocks. I wish I could see beauty in small things. I wish I was less vulnerable. I wish I was not that hard on myself. I wish I was wiser. I wish I could tell my younger self: Life won’t be easier ever, just have a sense of humor. Learn to laugh.
But doesn’t everybody think like that about early years?