‘Your too young to be panning memories Adam, you should be making new ones so that the mining will be richer when you come of age’
– J. Stenbeck
We’re always being told to make the most out of our youth. To do these things ‘while you're young and you’ve got the time.’ To live life fully before the looming cloud of adulthood and responsibility kicks in. What does this mean, and surely, how can we know before it’s too late? Everyone is different in this vision. Some see a two month trip to South East Asia, all beach parties, vodka buckets and iconic land marks as making the most of things, of squeezing in some travel, some freedom before they commit their life to something or someone else, ‘you can carry on with life now, you’ve done it, now get back to work!’. Some people I have spoken to are already in the mindset, before they’ve even left their home country, that their short trip will be a mere tick on the ‘To do’ list, something to say that they’ve completed only to move on with the list, with their goal orientated life. Yes, they’ll enjoy it and have fond memories but this is where it will end. Of course I aim to make the most out of my youth, but I don’t do so in order to pinpoint the highlights of a life lived with the sort of freedom only associated with the chapters of my younger years, nor do I do it in a way to define who I am, I simply part of the growth. There’s no goal orientation with it, there’s no overall objective, it’s simply an embraced essence of life that I couldn’t live in any other way, and with this comes the flooding satisfaction of the thing which I believe we must always listen to and trust the most; the heart. You should do what you believe in. Follow this feeling. Everything else is a lie.
But of course some experiences take me deep into a youthful frenzy, a bubbling realization of the budding life of a young man.
A long, arduous day of cycling in rural Rajasthan. Under the crimson curtain of dusk, shreds of clouds, like stretched cotton flared pink and then burnt out with the last minutes of blazing sunlight.[h1]
Through the hills, I pass bright gardens of lemon grass hemming slate stone houses enveloped in arching palm trees and tenanted by sleeping buffalo. Witnessing more pockets into worlds untouched (uninfected?) by modern civilization, scenes which haven’t changed for hundreds of years and probably wont change that soon either. As I cycled through these small callous patches of life either side of the sinuous track, children run out from nowhere waving and calling out in ecstatic, high pitched yells. I continued to ride into the night with the shuddering light from my phone leading the way.
I relished and beamed a tired smile to myself in the image of what I was doing. I remember this clear sensation of insatiable pride, self satisfaction, a oneness connecting dreams and reality. And yes it was shaping my youth, but defining it was the novelty of what I was doing and the strength that came knowing that I’d found something that fulfilled the thirst and that would only get broader and crave more with age. Pulling hard on the handlebars, heart pounding, breathing heavy through cold night air, working my way towards a hill top as the sky dips ink black and the moon hangs on my left shoulder like a pearl. I cycle on into the darkness, smiling all the way.
Several hours later I look out of a cheap motel window, exhausted, the sound of pigs scuffing through the waste below is the only noise under the moon, that salmon-colored moon, the only familiar object in this totally alien world.