We live in a nice neighborhood. It’s a great place to walk and that’s how I love to start my day. It’s good for me physically, spiritually and emotionally. Ingmar Bergman also enjoyed walking and commented, “Demons hate fresh air.” I find his remark both funny and profound. There are quite a few younger families in our development and I find myself having to share the sidewalk with certain demons for eight months of the year.
These demons are adolescent homo sapiens and I typically encounter them as they are flocked together on a street corner waiting for the school bus. The prickliest are the females of the species who routinely block all access to the sidewalk as they interact with each other and/or their mobile devices. My attempts at communicating with them have largely been ignored, greeted with indifference, or a non-verbal, quick expulsion of air, which apparently means, “Creep!” in their language. So far, I have found only one of them who can speak English and has been able to use the phrase, “Good morning.” There are fewer males and they are a sullen lot. I have not heard the males speak and they appear to communicate by grunting, exhaling in a similar fashion to the females, rolling their eyes, and shifting their posture in a variety of ways designed to express their unhappiness with the world.
I know this is a temporary phase in their lives, like having a bad religion. Still, there are times when I would be pleased if all these demons were mysteriously transported to a faraway place where they would stay until mature enough to recognize the errors in their thinking and pass an exit exam to be allowed back in regular society, which for most of them would be in their mid-twenties. I suspect my parents felt the same way…and they were justified in doing so.
My own recollections of adolescence are filled with memories of being too clever for my own good, getting too emotional, and having a fondness for being a smartass, the one thing at which I truly excelled, but could not figure out how to make a living at it. Rather than ignoring the demons and walking by silently, I choose to engage and be pleasant. This lets them know they still have to share the world with older people, who will continue to act as their landlords, bankers, and transportation providers for several more years.
For as long as I can tell, the older generation has worried about the abilities and fitness of the coming generation to keep the world from spinning off its axis. So far each younger generation has risen to the challenge. I expect this small sample of adolescents that I regularly encounter will do the same. Having raised four demons of my own, my heart goes out to their parents. Loving demons is not easy...one of my sons used to rail at us with, "I hate your love!"