Thursday, December 02, 2004

Teenage Angst and Weltschmerz

I played a coffee house gig last night at a local high school. My nephew, a student at the school, played violin and his dad and I acted as accompanists with guitars. It was fun. I always enjoy performing. It keeps me young. At least that's my excuse. When you're a geezer, you tend to grasp at straws. You do anything to slow down the march of time.

I was proud of my violinist nephew Jessiah and of his brother Jordan, who played oboe and performed as part of a woodwind ensemble.

There were many other performers. It was heartening to see so much budding talent. The entertainment ran the gamut from poetry reading to musical performances, encompassing genres from folk to jazz.

Regular readers will remember that I am perpetually perplexed (I love alliteration) by what goes on in the world around me. Performances by some of the teenagers at the event last night gave me much fodder for rumination.

Let's chew on this: In this world of plenty, where everyone has everything, why is there so much pain and introspection in the lives of teenagers? Songs and poems I heard last night complained of lost love, last chances at happiness and despair to the point of contemplating suicide. I could perhaps understand a tiny bit of Angst in teenagers with many critical life choices still ahead, but kids this age are definitely way too young to be experiencing the Weltschmerz that pervaded much of the self-penned song lyrics and poetry I heard last night.

We have all had lost loves, especially of the teen 'puppy love' variety. I wrote a poem on the subject myself, once, but my ending line was, "I'll love again tomorrow." That was my seventeen-year-old way of saying: "Next!"

Life goes on, kids. All the time lamenting this or that could be better spent doing something about the problem. Got dumped? Big deal. You have just been handed a chance to find someone better. Wallow in your hurt for a few days, if you insist, privately if at all possible, then get yourself 'out there' where others can see what a wonderful person you are. Do you know what whining will do? It will scare away any potential boyfriends or girlfriends. Do you like to listen to your friends when they complain about how horrible things are? Why do you think others will want to listen to you as you vent about how unfair life is and how it was not your fault and how mean and nasty everyone is to you?

Disappointments abound in the lives of teenagers. Nothing seems to be permanent, at a time in their lives when they most need stability. Life tends to unfold in directions considerably different from what they expect. We've all been there. Being a teenager is tough, sure. But... I think that much of the confusion and hurt experienced by teenagers today is because of moral relativism. If everything is relative, if nothing is either one thing or another, that can be very confusing.

Kids hear: "Go with your heart." What I think they should hear is: "Go with what's right." Kids are encouraged to feel, but not to think. It is no wonder that things are such a mess in the world.

So, kids: Does that mean that everyone should be a soulless automaton, clunking through life on auto-pilot. Of course not! It means that you can often tell in advance, if you think about it, if someone is going to take advantage of you, lie to you, lie about you or cheat on you. And if you are blinded by infatuation, your friends might be helpful in giving you relationship advice.

Or, you could ask your parents.

But that wouldn't be 'cool,' would it?

But it might be helpful.

Think about it.

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