What were you doing at age 14? After reading this piece, it made me think of what I was doing at that age. I was trying to find my voice in the midst of dealing with family issues because of divorce, growing up in southern Idaho in the early 1980's. Cable TV was still fairly a new development, computers had just entered the classroom, and I was scared to death about talking to a girl. Of those things, only the last thing still provides some mystery to me, but I can't imagine dealing with another life at 14, much less the decisions that kids have to make at that point.
Kids today try so hard to become adult, wanting to take on more responsibility for the choices they make and the situations they put themselves into, yet most of them have no clue about the potential ramifications of their decisions. There is a wonderful feeling you get at that age when you start to run things in your life a bit more, choosing your friends and clothes, and it makes you feel more independent, more responsible, more adult. But yet you can still have moments of being a kid, not worrying about where your next meal is coming from, where your stuff is at, what pressures and realities are going on in the world. It's a odd combination of having responsibility with having the world's best safety net there when things fall apart, parents and other adults.
Yet we live in a world of adults have millions of people that make one wrong choice, and their lives are suddenly turned inside out. The demands of the world are suddenly your concern, and consequences that were first ignored or not considered are staring you right in the face in the form of another person, an addiction, or some other entity, and unlike other things, they don't exactly go away if you wish really hard.
As much as I love living in our world of instant communication and wondrous technology, I wonder whether we've traded these gifts for a bit of the innocence or insulation that previous generations treasure. And I realize that I'm in the generation that bridges the younger group of "i want it now, why can't I have it" with the older generation of "back in our days, we didn't have this". I can see the wonders we all have right now, but I can also see the lure of simpler times and issues.
Which is why it's more important that ever to share stories like this one, and we as human beings continue to interact and learn more about each other all the time. With computers and technology, it's easy to become insular and uncaring, thinking that it's awesome to have 1,000 Facebook friends. But of such a large group, could you really count on those people if you were really in a jam, needing money, help or support? I may have a large group of friends in the FB reality, but I know all of them personally, even if the interactions have been short or it's been years since I've seen some of them. It's about fostering relationships, and investing time in people by sharing of yourself, and it's a lesson I'm glad I learned at that age. Now if I could have only mastered algebra, I'd really be on my game...
EDIT - Congrats to Mandjou Keita, Ryan Pore, Steve Cronin, David Hayes and Cameron Knowles from the Portland Timbers on their all league honors from the USL. Keita, Pore, Cronin and Hayes were all names to the USL First Division First Team (called the USL-1 All League Team), while Knowles was selected to the USL First Division Second Team. The Timbers head north to Vancouver for game 1 of their two game series with the Vancouver Whitecaps tomorrow night, and I'll be heading up there with girl. Should be a fun game, despite our historical troubles up there. I'll have a report at my other blog home.
And if you really wanted to learn more about the Timbers Army and what we are all about, read my good friend Shawn Levy's take on soccer fans and hooligans. It's one of the best pieces I've read about this subject in quite a while.