When the movie Before Midnight came out last year, I realized that perhaps it was time to finally watch the first two movies that came before it, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, before I watch it. (Wow that was a lot of befores in a sentence.)
As I watched the first movie, I was hit with this thought: they’re so young! They were so young, so they could do whatever they wanted, as there was nothing to lose at that point yet.
I told my friend my thoughts about it, because she was the one who said I should watch the movie because the guy reminded her of me. “I mean, if you went to Europe and met a guy on a train and he asked you if you get off and spend the day with him, would you?” I typed furiously. “I don’t think you would, because you’d be thinking of all the risks, like he could turn out to be a thief and steal all your stuff, and there would be a lot of stuff to steal now, unlike when you were a young broke college student.”
“At our age, we can’t afford to take risks anymore, because there would be too much at stake,” I went on. “So really, all those times you tell me that you just want to walk out on life one day, I bet you can never do that. It’s too late to do that.”
At that point I wasn’t really just talking about two young lovers on a train, not really. As usual, a single scene in a show had triggered a single thought that escalated into so many more. I was old. I had too many responsibilities now, people had more expectations of me. I had wasted too many years. I stared sadly at the two young people on my screen and thought about how they didn’t even realize how much possibility lay before them.
That phrase – it reminded me of something I read years ago, when I was as young and ignorant as these two. The sunscreen speech. The one that became so famous that it was turned into a song. The one that had this line:
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Oh, God. This line makes so much sense now. I completely agree with what it says. I didn’t understand it before. But now I do. I so do.
I also finally understand the quote “youth is wasted on the young.” It really is. The youth take their youth for granted. And like most things, they don’t realize the value of what they have until it’s gone. Until they’re me.
P.S. You can read the full sunscreen speech here. Do read it. It’s chock full of wisdom that you should heed before it’s too late.
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, a blog hop that goes through the alphabet for all the days of April except Sundays.