The Heyday Of Life by Edgar Wilson Nye

Story type: Essay

There will always be a slight difference in the opinions of the young and the mature, relative to the general plan on which the solar system should be operated, no doubt. There are also points of disagreement in other matters, and it looks as though there always would be.

To the young the future has a more roseate hue. The roseate hue comes high, but we have to use it in this place. To the young there spreads out across the horizon a glorious range of possibilities. After the youth has endorsed for an intimate friend a few times, and purchased the paper at the bank himself later on, the horizon won’t seem to horizon so tumultuously as it did aforetime. I remember at one time of purchasing such a piece of accommodation paper at a bank, and I still have it. I didn’t need it any more than a cat needs eleven tails at one and the same time. Still the bank made it an object for me, and I secured it. Such things as these harshly knock the flush and bloom off the cheek of youth, and prompt us to turn the strawberry box bottom side up before we purchase it.

Youth is gay and hopeful, age is covered with experience and scars where the skin has been knocked off and had to grow on again. To the young a dollar looks large and strong, but to the middle-aged and the old it is weak and inefficient.

When we are in the heyday and fizz of existence, we believe everything; but after awhile we murmur: “What’s that you are givin’ us,” or words of like character. Age brings caution and a lot of shop-worn experience, purchased at the highest market price. Time brings vain regrets and wisdom teeth that can be left in a glass of water over night.

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Still we should not repine. If people would repine less and try harder to get up an appetite by persweating in someone’s vineyard at so much per diem, it would be better. The American people of late years seem to have a deeper and deadlier repugnance for mannish industry, and there seems to be a growing opinion that our crops are more abundant when saturated with foreign perspiration. European sweat, if I may be allowed to use such a low term, is very good in its place, but the native-born Duke of Dakota, or the Earl of York State should remember that the matter of perspiration and posterity should not be left solely to the foreigner.

There are too many Americans who toil not, neither do they spin. They would be willing to have an office foisted upon them, but they would rather blow their so-called brains out than to steer a pair of large steel-gray mules from day to day. They are too proud to hoe corn, for fear some great man will ride by and see the termination of their shirts extending out through the seats of their pantaloons, but they are not too proud to assign their shattered finances to a friend and their shattered remains to the morgue.

Pride is all right if it is the right kind, but the pride that prompts a man to kill his mother, because she at last refuses to black his boots any more, is an erroneous pride. The pride that induces a man to muss up the carpet with his brains because there is nothing left for him to do but to labor, is the kind that Lucifer had when he bolted the action of the convention and went over to the red-hot minority.

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Youth is the spring-time of life. It is the time to acquire information, so that we may show it off in after years and paralyze people with what we know. The wise youth will “lay low” till he gets a whole lot of knowledge, and then in later days turn it loose in an abrupt manner. He will guard against telling what he knows, a little at a time. That is unwise. I once knew a youth who wore himself out telling people all he knew from day to day, so that when he became a bald-headed man he was utterly exhausted and didn’t have anything left to tell anyone. Some of the things that we know should be saved for our own use. The man who sheds all his knowledge, and don’t leave enough to keep house with, fools himself.

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