I had breakfast with a beautiful young lady today. Her beauty is certainly physical but it extends much deeper to her inner-self, and surely to her very soul. The amazing thing about advancing age is that I am afforded the opportunity to watch a precious life evolve. I am mindful of the great journey my granddaughter has taken these first seventeen years of her life--from adolescent to a mature young woman; the transformation has been exciting and dramatic.
For the last several years she and I have chosen to set aside the first Saturday of every month for breakfast with each other. Over that period we have sampled breakfast fares of numerous eateries located in our town and adjacent towns. The food has certainly been nourishing for the body, but more importantly the relationship we have shared has been satisfying to my spirit and hopefully her’s. She has shared her likes, dislikes, viewpoints, problems and dreams over these morning meals. I have attempted to provide a smidgen of grandfatherly wisdom whenever I could. Undoubtedly, I have received the better payment for these precious moments. I am therefore in her debt forever.
We talked today about her quickly approaching graduation from high school and her plans afterwards. Gratefully, college is solidly in her future, as she seeks to find the institution of higher learning that will provide her the best opportunity for education at a price that satisfies the budget. It isn’t an easy task, but a necessary one. I have no doubt she will soon have that step taken.
This caused us to discuss briefly the difference between her life in high school and her new life afterwards. Her high school years, although generally satisfying, have not been free of adolescent trauma. Her sense of right and wrong and her choice in making decisions led her to sever some long established friendships and forge new ones. Such is life in high school. But there is no doubt that today’s teenager is faced with pressures the older generations simply did not have. The peer pressure is tremendous, and young people are influenced by an onslaught of ideas and lifestyles conveyed by a communication system which was non-existent when I was in high school.
I am proud of the choices she has made during these formative and confusing years. Certainly it is difficult to endure the changes from adolescence to young adult without the added peer pressure encouraged by media and friends. It forces young people to set boundaries and make difficult decisions as to who really is worthy to be one’s friend. Many teens fail at this decision; hopefully the damage is minimal until the lesson can be learned.
As we talked, I shared my analogy of her current situation. Until this moment she has existed in a very controlled environment whose boundaries have been generally related to associations formed in high school. Her life and sphere of relationships have been largely influenced by her school activities. For these last twelve years she has rubbed shoulders with many of the same kids--each one maturing through the process of growing and learning to be an adult. Cliques have formed and social standards have been set, be they either good or not so good. Her world has been framed within the panes of the high school system, which was by law mandatory and beyond her control.
In a couple of months she will graduate from high school and move beyond this system. She will move into a new society beyond the limits of the high school parameters. For many young people, this represents new freedom and new opportunities. Assuredly, for my granddaughter and for all of these young people, it can be a frightening experience often approached with excitement and bitter-sweet emotions. Until this moment she existed as a fish in a small pond, constantly bumping into the familiar things in that pond. Now, she will be released into the vast ocean—much deeper than the pond of her adolescence and filled with untold opportunities and strange things to bump into.
What she does now is up to her. It is her decision. She can do as many have done and stay close to the pond, never venturing far from its familiar banks and bottom—always preferring to bump into the things she has bumped into for her first seventeen years of life. She can swim into to the ocean, but not far, keeping an eye on the distant banks of the pond while testing the waters of the ocean. Or she can jump into the ocean and swim—swim into its depths, claiming its vast waters and endless opportunities as her own—swimming far from the familiar banks of the little pond, being aware of the dangers of the deep but welcoming its currents and swells with the confidence of an accomplished swimmer. The decision is hers. What will she do? Regardless of her decision, I know she will be happy with the decision she makes, for it will be made with divine guidance. Personally, I suspect she will swim into the ocean, testing and claiming its depths as her own. Regardless of what she does, I am very proud of her and envy her greatly. Ah, if only I were seventeen again.