One of my favorite songs by the Beach Boys is their 1964 single “When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)”. This song was part of the transitional period between the Boys’ early days – the sunny/surf/car songs era – and the growth into the orchestral, introspective (brilliant) music that Brian Wilson started writing in the mid ’60s. It features (obviously) wonderful vocal parts and interesting chords, but the lyric is very sophisticated considering they were all younger than me at the time it was written. The lyrics are about looking forward to becoming an adult; the tone is that of simultaneous excitement and apprehension – “Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn’t done what I did?”, “Will I settle down fast or will I first want to travel the world?”, “Will I love my wife for the rest of my life?”, “Well I’m young and free, but how will it be when I grow up to be a man?”
Growing up is interesting. For most people in their early 20s or younger (this was true for me anyways), I think there is always an instant sensation of excitement and wonder when the thought of “growing up” comes to mind. This probably stems from the ideas of more freedom, less hassle, not having to do what someone tells you, being able to do grown-up things, etc… Anyway, I know I’m not really done growing up yet, but my experience so far has been very different than how I imagined. For instance, while I was away at college (2005-2007), I felt like I was really grown up, for good. I was living “independently”, choosing my own routine/schedule, buying my own groceries, always meeting new people – I was a real adult!
Looking back, however, college feels like a blur, and I actually hadn’t made much progress at that point. In reality, my “independent” living consisted of a dorm room paid for by student loans that were split between me and my parents; my groceries were just a supplement to the meal card that my parents paid for so I could eat on campus (which is what I did 80% of the time); and all the great new people I met have mostly made no impact on my life (I still interact with maybe 12 people that I went to college with). The only real thing on that list was the fact that I pretty much owned my time – I did what I wanted, when I wanted. And now, I can see how truly awesome that was, because there is a heck of a lot more that needs to be taken care of in the real world, and I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have essentially zero responsibility while I was in college. My only responsibilities were to show up to class, and practice guitar for the ensemble I was in (I still slacked off on these things sometimes!)
I ramble, but here’s my point. At the risk of sounding like an angry old geezer – “Cherish your youth”. Granted, I still am pretty darn young, and have (God willing) many many years ahead of me. But seriously, to those of you who are younger than me – don’t take stuff too seriously (besides your faith & academics); so much of what you think is important now probably won’t matter one bit in 8 years. Rather – have fun, go outside, spend time with friends, make memories (gosh I sound like a lame flowery greeting card), and pray. A lot. I don’t live with regret. I don’t want you to either.
Well I’m not sure why I’m in such an advice-giving, sentimental mood, but hopefully you appreciated it in some way, even if it doesn’t apply to you. Obviously this is all just my take on it, and is by no means the ultimate set of guidelines on how to live your life. But it is my blog, so I can say what I want!! Next week I will have funnier things to say. Peace!
Three Songs to Buy on iTunes This Week:
1. “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” by the Beach Boys
2. “When You Were Young” by the Killers
3. “Young and Aspiring” by Underoath