Monday, October 24, 2005

Better 52 than 16

Today is a "guest" quotation of sorts--an excerpt from the diary of Warren H. Lewis, C.S. Lewis's older brother:

Friday, 4th July, 1947--

After dinner I read about half of the batch of [the new] Hobbit* which Tollers** sent me: how does he keep it up? The crossing of the marshes by Frodo, Sam and Gollum in particular is magnificent....After tea another walk...While I was hesitating in the wet grey twilight, a corncrake started up in a field of young wheat, and no nightingale could have ravished me as did its harsh song...As I plodded home in the rain, under weather conditions themselves extraordinarily reminiscent of old days, my mind was full of pictures evoked by the corncrake: particularly of smoking cigarettes with Jack on the top of the bow of the study window, reached by climbing out of our bedroom window. But while my thoughts are tender, I could not summon a single regret; at 52 I may be nearing the end of the race, but how infinitely preferable it is to be 52 rather than 16! It is astonishing to me that practically the whole weight of literature takes it as axiomatic that nothing can make up for the loss of youth; at least Lamb and Stevenson are the only two men I can think of at the moment who have anything to say on the other side. Meditating as I walked, I came to the conclusion that discontent and envy made the permanent background of my youth--envy, hopeless permanent envy of those who were good at games: of those with attractive manners: of those who got their clothes made in town and owned motor bykes: even of those who were good looking: and all coupled with that self consciousness which at 15 or 16 can be a perfect torment...
No, give me the level road of the 'fifties, and anyone who likes may sigh for the ecstasies of youth. Ecstasies there are to be sure: I remember as if it were last week the first time I walked up College with a double first: but then so do I remember the time when I was senior enough to suffer agonies at being snubbed by the head of the House.
~Warren H. Lewis, Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis, (ed. Clyde S. Kilby & Marjorie Lamp Mead, 1982)

*The Lord of the Rings

**J.R.R. Tolkien

2 Comment(s):

At Tue Oct 25, 12:04:00 AM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

This is so true. I enjoyed most of my teens, but I enjoy life a lot more now. I also no longer have the need to save the world etc

At Sat Oct 29, 09:05:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I agree! I'd much rather the stable middle-age times than going through all that teenage angst again. Reading Harry Potter sure brings some of that back!


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