The frivolity of youth

Ever wonder why boys and girls seem frivolous? They’re quick to giggle or laugh, quick to find something funny, quick to react, quick with their wits, quick to emote, and quick to forget. I know, because they’re young. A 26-year old, who’s not much older than the teens in the party, steered my attention to the three girls obviously enjoying themselves and finding amusement in reading each other’s cell phone messages and viewing each other’s pictures. The girls acted giddy, without the alcohol, but with just plain entertaining tete-a-tete and banter between them. Girls in their late teens, squirming and laughing as they exchanged cell phones and indulged in such hilarity enough to make everyone else around jealous.

Thus, the comment from the 26-year-old – what is it that they can be as playful and capricious like they own the world. I thought, don’t the youths think they own the world? Let them think they own the world, because when they get older, they’ll realize the world isn’t theirs. So, let them be frivolous, let them be flippant at whim, let them have fun … for as long as they’re not hurting anyone. I wanted to ask the 26-year-old, “weren’t you that way when you were younger?” I got my answer even without asking. In somber tones, she said, she was serious when she was younger, and that seriousness stayed as she got older.

That made me sad. It also made me realize, even as I already knew, not all youths are frivolous. Not all can take the lightheartedness of life and turn it into a humor spree. Not all can find amusement in the pettiness of life and shift that into comical observations, or maybe teachable moments. Not all are quick to giggle and laugh, like those three teens in the party.

I can say that of adults, too. Some are prone to lightheartedness, and others are prone to be serious. It is not for me to judge, but often, the lighthearted ones grasp the joy of the moment, and embrace it like a child running to catch wind-blown petals from the cherry tree. The serious ones can be blinded with anxieties and fears that debilitate from finding simple delights spread before their eyes. I cannot claim to be just one or the other. I am both. And in my baby boomer years, I reach for the lightheartedness of youth. It’s still there, waiting to be grabbed. But I also indulge in seriousness when age looks to experience and remembers the not-so-easy or not-so-pleasant instances, and anxiety sets in – usually and most often, for naught. Then I regret the seriousness that made me miss out on the fun and significance of the moment – so I tell myself, learn from this and try to be less anxious and be effervescent. I cave in to my own nudging, for a while, that is. Then I’m back to some seriousness, and back to lightheartedness. I guess there’s a Ying and Yang in me, as in most perhaps.

The truth is, I admire the frivolity of youth. We should try to have some of that in each of us, maybe not all the time, but much of the time.

Linda P. Jacob