This idea of “trying to stay young for as long as I can” on the surface seems a superficial egoistic endeavor to justify irresponsibility and rebellion. Yet, if we take a closer look at this desire we see that the precondition for having said such a fact gives evidence to a somewhat self reflective adulthood. (and yes, here I am assuming that adulthood and maturity go hand in hand to amount to some sort of self conscious attitude upon ones own condition). For only someone that has reflected on youth from an exterior or futuristic position could affirm a current identity as youthful, green, naive, or free. This freedom is not the early adolescent freedom of purely doing what one wants absolutely, but rather a freedom which is only made possible and pleasurable by having taken reflective stance on itself. The playful somewhat condescending jest of, “just trying to keep you young” has more resonance in a darkly comic nostalgia for the freedom of youth which we all remember than an solely careless attitude to living.
Another virtue to youth was first articulated to me in a Kundera novel, The Joke. In the story, Ludvik is sent to a workers camp where he meets a young ruthless lieutenant. At first having an incredible distaste for the young lieutenant, Ludvick writes him off as an arrogant social climber that that takes pleasure in abusing his power over the comrades. Kundera breaks the narrative to comment that the youth are not more ruthless because of their age or strength, but what is at the core of their ferocious drive is their ambition. The need to compensate for lack of age, experience, and strength fuels their rage, ambition, and desire to succeed. It is as if they live by the illusion that proving themselves to others will validate them and legitimize their raw unnerving identity. This I think today is recognized as the innuendo ideology. You graduate after four years of studying to hone your craft and with massive lifetimes of debt; then you get paid shit to nothing to trade your labor for what… merit? A pat on the head? An opportunity to brown nose your way into something pays a little more than minimum wage? They pay you just enough so that you’ll stay. Not enough to think you can ask for more. But still enough to think that just after this six month patch, they’ll finally recognize your invaluable contributions. the cost of living still out weights the tax on dying. So what is this all for again? You wake up every morning and between getting out of bed because your kidneys are sore from holding your pee all night and actually getting up to put a coat on so you don’t freeze when you walk the dog… Youre thinking: what is this all for again? Well the answer is silly, silly. Very simply, it’s love.