Perspective, optimism serve all ages well

I have been in Louisville, KY this past week, experiencing its humidity (yes, I enjoy an occasional bout of high temperatures and humidity so I at least can appreciate Colorado’s wonderful weather that much more) and the warm, friendly hospitality of its locals.

People of all ages give me a friendly wave of the hand as they yield while driving or a smile when I pass them walking on the sidewalk. It can go without mentioning, but I will still say there is a lot of courtesy, manners, attentiveness and hospitality to be found here.

I was at the Buckhead Mountain Grill in Jeffersonville, IN, last night. Great place to eat and have an adult beverage or two. There was also an acoustic music duo playing out on the deck overlooking the Ohio River where we were sitting, too, making the night all the more enjoyable.

People still like eating out and although they may be doing less of it generally-speaking these days, they still appreciate being able to enjoy a good meal at a fair price. If you happen to meet new people like I did, you can appreciate what’s going on locally all that much better.

I especially enjoy speaking with young people and hearing their points of view, what’s going on in their lives and their hopes for the future.

Conversation can be more casual in a social setting like a restaurant saloon. But interestingly enough, struggles and pressures being faced by young people come out during the course of talking with them.

I feel for them in terms of what they have inherited economically-speaking.

They grew up in a world transitioning to the global economy and the move to service sector jobs in this country.

The older generation never considered what that world would look like for them.

The eight, nine, ten and eleven dollar an hour jobs they must compete for are mostly dead-end.

They hear the rhetoric of politicians and understand they are left to choose between the lesser of two evils.

Inflation marches on. Gas prices creep upwards. Cost of living increases, if you are able to get them, barely keep pace with food, rent and utility costs.

Twenty years ago, it was a no brainer to go to college and get your degree after high school.

You were pretty much assured of a job; not so much anymore.

Despite knowing the deck is very much stacked against them, young people remain largely positive and optimistic.

I wouldn’t blame them if they were angry and wanted to rebel against all that globalization has wrought.

The musicianship of the duo playing at Buckhead was excellent.

The crowd was chirpy and upbeat.

I’d hesitate to say they were “happy,” but after having 24 hours to reflect, that’s what I keep coming back to.

I struck up a conversation with a young man who had recently lost his job at a restaurant. He told me that it was tough, but he is happy, and I believed him.

He was looking forward to new opportunities. He didn’t know exactly what shape or form they might take, but it was obvious by his smile and enthusiasm, he fully believed in himself, and whatever lay ahead for him, he would make the best of it.

He made me think of myself when I was his age.

Although I did not have it figured out at that age, I was confident things would get better.

I still do not have it figured out. Some days I feel I’m struggling like a lot of people young and old in the world, but I offered to the young man that it is good to keep perspective in life. As bad as it gets sometimes, there is always someone, somewhere, someplace, whose lot in life is worse than yours right now.

Despite none of our politicians having the solution for the country’s malaise, I believe the way forward will once again ultimately be shown by our young people.

If by their sheer optimism and determination for the world to be a better place, youth is not wasted on the young.

That perspective is needed by all ages.

It is only when we toss aside our jaded, stale, unambitious ways, embracing risk and rejection we experience at attempts for a better life, that we stand a chance at seeing how anything can be better than the here and now.



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