That’s the title of a terrific Bob Dylan song from years ago. One section of the lyrics (song by a father to his child): “May you grow up to be righteous, May you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth, And see the lights surrounding you,”
I’ve pretty well established in RnR that I love Dylan. But I think he got it wrong here. Or at least he didn’t go far enough. Because I think it’s up to us Dads as well to see the lights surrounding us, too. Namely young people.
I have a pretty unique perspective on young people these days. Besides the three pretty terrific ones that live in my house, I see a ton of them every day at work. And believe me, they are lights.
They’re smart, funny, hardworking and everything else you’d want to have in colleagues. For some reason, according to my boss anyway, they respect me. Truth of the matter is, I respect them tremendously.
It’s funny. As my journalism career was winding down (and keep in mind I had no idea it was winding down), I often wondered why it didn’t seem as fun as it used to. I was working at the magazine, and most of us who worked there were super experienced and, I like to think, really good at what we did. Yet there seemed to be something lacking.
Over the past week or so, I think I figured it out. I was around people roughly my age or older, and I was getting old. Not growing up, but getting old. I was grouchy, overly sensitive, seeking to cover my ice all the time.
Now nearly everyone I work with is young enough to be my child. Including my direct report. Some people would bristle at that. I feel challenged by it. I want to keep up. No, that’s not true, I want to get/stay ahead. What I mean, I guess, is that I’m challenged in the very best of ways.
The creatives at my place recently held a one-day create-a-thon we called Info Wars. I’ve shared some of the products of it on Facebook, and I’ll continue to as they get done (including what I think is a pretty damn outstanding piece that I worked on). Because there’s some pretty spectacular stuff that’s come out of it. We formed teams of people who don’t usually work together, and we’re competing for a bunch of cash. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to win the money. But you know what: The teams are going out of our way to help one another. I think we know that we’ll all shine brighter if we shine together.
Here are some of the projects I was able to round up this morning (again, the one my team worked on isn’t ready yet):
I wish everyone could feel the inspiration I do. As I said, it keeps me young in all the ways that count. I don’t mean that I try to listen to the same cool music and watch the same cool YouTubes and enjoy the same cool foods and beers that they do. Wait, I guess I do. But I don’t try to act young. I just act like Arthur – it’s all I’ve ever known how to do.
The crazy thing is, it has been enough. The young folks I work with are different. Some are really quiet; others like to stand out. They don’t judge. They speak out when they see stuff that’s wrong with the world. They’re so damn optimistic sometimes that it makes you want to cry. While you’re pitching right in there with them. They include instead of excluding. They even include old guys.
The lights surrounding me burn off my layers of cynicism, of distrust, of just trying to survive, of fear. They inspire me to take chances again. They make me chase that green light. They make me swim furiously against the tide. They keep me from being borne back ceaselessly into the past.
May YOUR heart always be joyful, and may your song always be sung. May you stay forever young.