Unsolicited Advice from a Duffer to Younger Members: Get Married, Have Kids, Be an Adult. Now!!
One of the real joys of life for me is reading the essays of Joseph Epstein (you can find him in Commentary, The Weekly Standard, New Criterion, and in his own books of essays). His prefatory essay to In a Cardboard Belt!: Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage is entitled “Kid Turns Seventy, Nobody Cheers.” It's wise rumination about turning seventy, with commentary on the great differences between what it meant to grow up in the Fifties and Sixties and to grow up now. Epstein has me by 10-15 years, but I see the world much the same as he does. Two excerpts from this essay are, in particular, worth sharing. The first defines when a person has accepted his "dufferhood":
“At seventy it is natural to begin to view the world from the sidelines, . . . watching younger people do the dances of ambition, competition, lust, and the rest of it.” xvi
I'm just about there.
The second is the more important observation:
“I . . . grew up at a time when the goal was to be adult as soon as possible, while today . . . the goal is to stay young as possible for as long as possible. The consequences of this for the culture are enormous. That people live longer means only that they can remain kids longer: uncommitted to marriage, serious work, life itself. Adolescence has been stretched out, at least into one’s thirties, perhaps one’s early forties.” xxi
His observation is a profound one for our society. I got married before I could "afford" it, and we had kids long before we had the slightest idea how we would pay for college; but it worked out--necessity really is the mother of invention.
Other than the privileges of "dufferhood," I have no right to give anyone else advice. That, of course, does not prevent me giving some to the younger Ricocheteers: Get married and have kids. It will turn you into an adult. You'll like it. And it's one of the best things you can do for a culture that needs some help. [TR gets off soapbox and toddles to couch to catch his breath].