New Deeds for New People

Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.

Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young then they were.

I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything, to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it.

If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about.

You may say the wisest thing you can old man, - you who have lived seventy years, not without honor of a kind, - I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from all that. One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels.

What old people say you cannot do you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.

[Henry David Thoreau]
Walden, p.10, 12

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1 comment:

  1. Old and young alike, as soon as years of discretion have been reached, have a right to their own choices, and if necessary to their own mistakes. Young people are ill-advised if they yield to the pressure of the old in any vital matter.

    [Bertrand Russell]
    The Conquest of Happiness, p.91

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