The Arrogance of Youth

I just saw some young people who were headed home from the Bonnaroo Festival. I’m amazed at the arrogance of youth; the heavy burden of being tragically hip. These kids wore the uniform of what I call the Phish-hippies. Flip-flops. Cargo pants. The girls showed the appropriate amount of bare belly; not so much that they’d fall in with the Britney Spears crowd. Their hair was carefully unkempt. The guy wore a t-shirt with a screen-printed anarchy symbol and sported the preferred Trey Anastasio beard of the jam band fan. Collectively they took in the tableau of weekend travelers with distaste. But not the yuppie’s distaste at the unwashed, huddled masses. Their distaste came from the heavy weight of their enlightenment and perceptive understanding. Unlike their fellow travelers, these young adventurers had drank of the ambrosia, being the first of their kind to experience live music and altered consciousness and the nirvana of sexual exploration.
I wonder what they would have made of me? I’m old by their standards. I don’t wear their uniform. My altered state of consciousness is achieved by closing my eyes and going to sleep. Yet most of the artists they saw at Bonneroo are present on my ipod. Certainly not because their presence there makes me cool, but simply because I like it. I was the only person they didn’t look, even as I lumbered by them in this 80,000 lb truck. I suspect because, unlike the drones, I would return their gaze and would not flinch. I am old. I am tired. But I am aware of the fragility of their position and how temporary is their superiority. I say enjoy it while you can. The illusion will not last.

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