Beyond AdolescenceSomething wonderful was about to happenTheme:adolescence, human potential, cultureSummaryDiscussionTranscriptRelated Insights
Many of have had the feeling that something wonderful was about to happen, that life was full of promise and that we would play an important part in making the world a better place. This passion and idealism blossoms during adolescence as we look at the world with completely new eyes. In this program we are going stretch our limits by discovering completely new ways to look at our young adults. As with our other programs Joseph Chilton Pearce, will challenge us along with a group of parents, educators and health care providers, by asking that we consider that adolescence might actually be very different from what we think it is. He suggests that adolescence may really be cumulative effect of both false education and a failure to fully develop our full potential.Coming
Many of have had the feeling that something wonderful was about to happen, that life was full of promise and that we would play an important part in making the world a better place. This passion and idealism blossoms during adolescence as we look at the world with completely new eyes. In this program we are going stretch our limits by discovering completely new ways to look at our young adults. As with our other programs Joseph Chilton Pearce, will challenge us along with a group of parents, educators and health care providers, by asking that we consider that adolescence might actually be very different from what we think it is. He suggests that adolescence may really be cumulative effect of both false education and a failure to fully develop our full potential. Please join Joe, along with a group of parents, educators and health care providers as they discover how the passionate search for ideals and ultimate models, which begins during adolescence, brings us to Evolution’s End, as we reach for the threshold of pure spirit.
Let's look at the adolescent as a real genuine group let’s say of the mid-teens or even the teens themselves. As I said, adolescence is by in large an arbitrary category, creative of the now day and time for a group of people that have no place. We have no room for them in the economic scheme of things and so we've created this category forum. But, nevertheless there are some very genuine things about adolescence that I would like to take up today.
Betty Staley of the Steiner School, the Waldorf School and the college in Fair Oaks, California, we've done many workshops together and she turned out a remarkable book called "Between Form and Freedom" which was a study of the adolescent, an English publication. I've forgotten exactly the name of the publisher, this "Between Form and Freedom" little paperback has some marvelous insights. There are three facets of the adolescent I would like to bring up that are not ordinarily mentioned about the adolescent. You will find these, I'm sure, quite resonant with you. The first of these characteristics of adolescence that we've already taken up starts around age 11 but by 15 or so it hits a kind of a critical acute level and that is idealism. The average person looks at the adolescent and they say idealism, this is the craziest thing we ever heard. They don't have an idealistic bone in their body. Look at their models, and so on and so forth.
Now, the issue is, and it was Betty that made this so clear to me, they are so acutely painfully idealistic. Starting about age 11, growing to about 14 or 15 and they start looking at the world through totally different eyes. This was when all of the sudden our children start dropping behind us on the street. They don't want to walk right with us. Have you ever had that happen? Here I know with all my young’uns, for years they looked up to me as though I were God and I liked that very much and suddenly they hit this certain age and they're looking at the old man and they're noticing he has dandruff, kind of bald, kind of small and not so much after all. In schools, our little children marching beautifully, good morning teacher, and they're loving and obedient and so on and all of the sudden they hit this age and they're looking at the teacher and they say, what do you know, and they're challenging the teacher every minute. The teacher's offended by this. They're threatened by it. What's going on? Well it's just suddenly nothing of their own doings. They're looking at the world through a prism, a new perspective and they're looking for a model that will match their idealism. That's all they're doing.
And they're looking at us through this idealistic frame of reference which suddenly comes up and they find us falling short. They weigh us and we are wanting, as the statement goes. So we're offended by this but, understand that at this point they need a model that matches that idealism. I ask you to quickly examine the models we give our young people.
Just look at it. Who are their models? The pop starts, the rock stars, the movie stars, the sport stars, at best maybe the political stars, Donald Trump, really these are their models. On every hand, and I say this in all kindness, on every hand, no one means to do this, the models betray what the young person is looking for. They simply betray them. They don't match up at all. It's not what they're after. It doesn't fit the need. It's not appropriate and they keep looking. And at a certain point, and it's happening earlier and earlier, at a certain point what happens? In place of the idealism comes despair, a loss of hope of finding a model and cynicism, anger, frustration and the adoption of models who represent the exact opposite to what they're really after and that comes about from their feeling of futility and helplessness of ever finding what they really want.
And so they kind of choose anti-heroes. Instead of those who measure up to virtue, uprightness, all this that they felt at age 11, justice, fairness, and so on, they pick the punk star who says don't kill me I'm already dead. That's what they wear on their t-shirts, don't kill me I'm already dead. And that becomes the kind of cynical, and they all practice at this, they play it, they have to be tough, sophisticated and cynical of one another. That is to deny their idealism. Why must they deny it so vigorously? What is it Macbeth said, "the lady doeth protest too much". They deny it so vigorously because it's too painful. Their loss of idealism is too painful to them so they pick their anti-models and of course the societies anxious to provide those for them because through those models you can make billions of dollars out of that frustration and rage of your young people.
Now, let's take the second thing about the adolescent. This will start up somewhere probably around 14 or 15. I can tell you by 16 it's so painful, it just is literally very heavy in a person's life. And that's the feeling what I call the great expectation. Great expectation. And that is the feeling that something tremendous is supposed to happen and it's supposed to happen right now. And instant by instant we wait for it as young people. I was talking about this with a radio announcer once and he was one of these tough guys who battens around his guests you know and plays the tough role and I mentioned this business. Can't you remember when you were an adolescent, this feeling something tremendous was supposed to happen in your life? He said, "what do you mean remember it in my life", he says "I've waiting for it all my life and it hasn't happened yet" and blanky-blank "I don't think it ever will". He said "I thought every corner I turned it was going to happen. Every time I went up over a little hill it was going to happen and it never did". I love that you see but that really speaks for us all. This feeling of great expectation. This constant anticipation that something is supposed to happen and we expect it right now.
My favorite example, I have several, it was a letter from a young man in a university back east whose parents in New Mexico said he loved his third year of college. He was a junior and he was a star in every way, he was an athletic and he was popular and he made top grades and how everything was going his way. It was wonderful. He loved his school more than ever but something happened that he had to try to share and there was no one to share it with except his parents. He said, "I awakened the other night with 'the cold hand of terror clutching my heart'". And he said, "what it was, I suddenly remembered that since I was 14 I'd been waiting constantly for something tremendous that was supposed to happen and I woke up in the middle of the night realizing that I was almost 21 and it had never happened yet and the thought occurred to me, suppose it never happens and I never even know what it was supposed to have been".
The issue wasn't that he couldn't bear up under the disappointment of it never happening, the issue was he could not bear not knowing what it was supposed to have been. This is the adolescent. I think of George Leonard writing in Esquire Magazine, in his 16th year there in Atlanta, Georgia, he and his young friends getting together for their great bull sessions that would last all night long. Maybe you can remember that and how they would exhaust all topics of women and sports car or racing and so on and so forth and finally get around to the terrifying subject of what this was. There's also this gesture you see toward the heart, what it is and he spoke of this anguished longing, so intense we knew it could never be assuaged you see. And the problem is, it can't even be articulated. It can't be put into words. All the young person can do is kind of futile gesture toward it and that's all. This great anticipation of something tremendous that's supposed to happen.Coming