Thursday, April 16, 2015

Youthful stupidity was often disguised as bravado

Firefighters in Small Town, U.S.A. had to be called to get a five-year-old boy out of a tree.
The youngster had climbed more than 10 metres up the tree to check out a squirrel nest.
That is absolutely classic. Only the curiosity of a young boy could prompt him to climb almost three stories up a tree.
Once up there, however, the lad got nervous about climbing down and had to be 'rescued' by the fire department.
No one was angry at the boy and the fire chief commented the youngster will have a great story to tell his dad when he got home.
What young boy has not climbed a tree, mountain or whatever on a quest of curiosity?
I loved exploring when I was younger and I loved climbing trees.
When I was around 10, I can remember climbing so far up a pine tree the branches were starting to break under my weight because they were so thin, and I did not weigh very much.
Of course, if I tried it now the lower branches would groan and break before I even got my feet off the ground.
But on that day, I was at least 15 meters from the ground. However, it was not curiosity that got me to climb to the heavens, it was bravado.
I had to prove I was braver than everybody else by climbing higher up the tree than those scardey cats could.
And I did.
I was too young to realize I was risking my life for the sake of bragging rights, but I did know I had those bragging rights when I went higher than anyone else.
And when you are 10, bragging rights are a very important thing and I never once thought of falling to the jagged rocks below.
All that mattered was besting my buddies. Just like all that mattered for the squirrel-smitten lad was checking out where the adorable little rodent lived.
But as I grew older my brain kicked into gear and I came to realized some of the stuff I was doing in the name of fun and bravado was pretty darn stupid.
Problem is, that really didn't happen until I was in my mid-20s.
All through the teen years my friends and I did some very stupid stuff and, by the grace of God, we all not only survived, but did so with only minor injuries.
Sure I have a few scars – badges of honour as we used to call them – but there was never a life-threatening injury.
There were injuries of course, and I am paying for those brazen younger days in my older days, but at the time it was all about the adventure and even if an 'old person' had told me I was going to creak and crackle and pop when I am older because of the stupid stuff I was doing when I was younger, I wouldn't have listened.
From climbing to the top of trees to tearing down a hill as fast as possible on peddle bikes to racing each other on dirtbikes, the younger years were a blur of thrills and several spills.
Nowadays, when young men and women do crazy stuff they film it and put it on the Internet. And had there been an Internet when I was younger, I am pretty sure we would have done the same thing.
I don't recall why it was so important to do crazy stuff, why we always had to one up each other and why we would put ourselves in mortal danger just for the thrill of doing so.
But I guess that's the answer: the thrill.
Young men are full of bravado, and empty of common sense. I am no longer a young man, bravado is but a memory (like my hair) and I am blessed with an abundance of common sense.
I also have an abundance of aches and pains to remind me I am no longer the young whippersnapper I once was.

Copyright 2015 Darren Handschuh

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