This was youth
A few months ago, I was reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction novel “Aurora” when I came across a passage that spoke to me.
The novel is all about journeys. Firstly, it’s about a human population boarding a starship in hopes of inhabiting a new world. But at this point of the novel, it was not so much about that as it was about the personal journey of a single character.
One character, Freya, is exploring the world in which she lives—going out on her own, meeting new people. It was her own adventure, and it led her to the people she loved.
But then she had to leave, which led to this interaction she has with an elderly couple, in which Freya says:
“I don’t like this! Things keep happening, and people, you get to know them and love them, they’re everything to you and then you’re supposed to move on, I don’t like it! I want things to stay the same!”
The two elderly people nodded. They had each other, and their village, and they knew what Freya meant, she could tell; they had everything, so they understood her.
Nevertheless she had to go, they told her; this was youth. Every age had its losses, they said, even youth, which lost first childhood, then youth too. And all first things were vivid, including losses.
“Just keep learning,” the old woman said.
The first time I read this passage, it felt like someone had finally put into words all the messy feelings I’d been having about my last semester of college.
Like Freya, I had been through my own personal journey. College was an adventure that led me to the people I grew to know and love.
But now that I’ve graduated, I’m moving on to a new chapter of my life, and like Freya, all I can think about is how much I want things to stay the same.
Growing up, I was always ready to move to the next step, get out of my small hometown and change my surroundings.
Now, for the first time in my life, I’m hesitant of change.
I go back to the passage from “Aurora,” and I think about what the elderly couple told Freya. It sticks out to me in such a meaningful way.
Realizing that “every age has its losses” is jarring when you’re young and all you’re thinking about is what you can gain. You don’t think about the fact that as you grow older, there are some things you just have to lose.
Then I remember what the elderly woman says — “just keep learning.” And that fills me with hope.
My learning does not stop here.
My happiness does not stop here.
My new experiences, new friends and new memories do not stop here.
My life does not stop here. It will keep going, and each age will bring its own losses, but that’s life.
It does not stop here.