Friday, January 26, 2024

Andy Young: Could I be the first?

By Andy Young

Through some recent exhaustive research, I learned it was either George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde who first wrote or uttered, “Youth is wasted on the young,” or words to that effect.

Unfortunately, the specific information I had been seeking was the identity of the person who had first expressed, either verbally or in writing, that “Good health is wasted on the young.”

Well, whoever made that declaration should have specified that it is merely good physical health that’s being squandered on the still-developing. Decades of life experience have revealed (to me, anyway) there’s still plenty of good health left in those of us who aren’t as youthful as we used to be. In fact, when it comes to mental, emotional, and spiritual health, by and large we vintage baby boomers (or at least those of us who are still breathing) have it all over Gen X, Gen Z, millennials, and whatever other arbitrarily created demographic groups exist in public imagination these days.

I’ll admit to being a bit envious of people who can still run, walk, see, hear, and remember as easily as I once could. It used to bother me that I couldn’t instantly recall the first names of people I was certain I was familiar with. But that stopped concerning me when I realized it doesn’t faze me in the slightest when others can’t remember my first name.

The most inconvenient part of depreciating physical health involves vision. Once upon a time I had terrific eyesight; I was one of those people who could actually see the stitches on the baseball when someone threw it to me. These days, however, if I tried playing catch the only stitches involved would be the ones they’d have to sew in order to repair my lip, nose, or whatever body part(s) the ball collided with after I didn’t see it coming. In fact, I probably couldn’t tell if a white spheroid headed in my direction was a softball, an albino grapefruit, or an unripe peach until I actually felt the thud, splat, or fuzz. And never mind recognizing old friends from a distance; I’m lucky if I can determine someone’s gender before they’ve come within 10 feet of me.

At one point I was worried my worsening vision was making me a danger to society. That occurred after a white-knuckle drive home late one rainy night over some unfamiliar roads. It was only after relating the terrifying details to several friends (including a token millennial or two) that I realized everyone is a terrible driver after dark when it’s raining, and they don’t know the roads.

I’m actually better at identifying things at a distance than I am up close. Currently I cannot read anything printed in less than size 24 font without the aid of spectacles. I presently own at least twenty dollars’ worth of reading glasses. I keep one pair in my pocket, another at my desk at school, and have others stashed next to my bed, on the top of the breadbox in the kitchen, in the car’s glove compartment, and in the bathroom. I’m not sure where the other four pairs are right now, although between some couch cushions, at a friend’s house, or between some couch cushions at a friend’s house are all good guesses. I still haven’t ascertained who it was that first declared “Good health is wasted on the young.”

But wouldn’t it be something if nobody did?

Because if that’s truly the case, the first person to publicly, presciently and precisely declare that good health is wasted on the young would be me! <

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