What if we gave our duckfaced n'er do wells the obligation to engage with the real processes of death, to remind them that when someone dies that there is a real corpse and real grief left behind. Death is not an abstract concept. They could take part in a physical and emotional ritual beyond awkwardly lining up to file by an embalmed and made up body the funeral director has laid out under rose colored lights. No wonder these teenagers retreat to the bathroom to fix their hair and take a selfie in the mirror out of impotence and boredom. Our cultural traditions have failed them, and selfies at funerals are one of their only outlets to ritual and mourning in the age of the smartphone.
We all do foolish things when we are teenagers. We all have foolish false events that happen to us, foolish gaps in our memories. Not everything that has happened, has ever really happened.
Listeners, especially our younger listeners, consider this:
When we talk about teenagers, we adults often talk with an air of scorn, of expectation for disappointment. And this can make people who are presently teenagers feel very defensive.
But what everyone should understand is that none of us are talking to the teenagers that exist now, but talking back to the teenager we ourselves once were – all stupid mistakes and lack of fear, and bodies that hadn’t yet begun to slump into a lasting nothing.
Any teenager who exists now is incidental to the potent mix of nostalgia and shame with which we speak to our younger selves.
May we all remember what it was like to be so young. May we remember it factually, and not remember anything that is false, or incorrect.
May we all be human – beautiful, stupid, temporal, endless.
And as the sun sets, I place my hand upon my heart, feel that it is still beating, and remind myself: Past performance is not a predictor of future results.
Stay tuned now for whatever happens next in your life.
Pope Guilty: Maybe we could not try to regulate the emotional responses of other people.
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