If you meet me on the street, without having read my words and thoughts on this blog, would you afford me a thought that I’m anything but a blank slate on which to project your ideas of the value of youth? Would you see my depth, and not only my form? Would you listen to my words, and not dismiss my words and thoughts and depths as juvenile and unimportant? Even if I could not articulate them well in speech?
That thought struck me today when an elderly gentleman objected to mine and Mark’s presence on a park bench where we had sat down to enjoy a rest after doing another round of sofa-browsing. His exact words were that we should get a job and learn some manners, and his tone was so dismissive and dare I say it so intimidated. Is that all we are to people, as youth and males? A threat that does not have depths beyond that threat?
I see brilliance everywhere. Ben and Abbie are, in their own ways, brilliant people. Abbie is analytical and sharp and can grasp complex ideas so quickly. Ben can take any word and make it beautiful or frightening or funny, and he can then set it to rhyme and metre without any apparent effort. In some ways, I am the lesser of our trio because I do not have Abbie’s ferret like speed nor Ben’s apparent ease.
When this gentleman look upon Mark, does he see the machinations of the mind behind it that can break down complex mathematical problems with barely a glance at it? When he looks at me, does he see the curiosity I have about everything and everyone, with this need I have for understanding? Or does he only see two young males; mannequins which he can dress in his own ideas about youth’s lack of knowledge and manners?
The most demeaning put-down I know is that I am stupid because I do not know anything and because my brain is not fully formed yet. That can dismiss me, my complexity, my depths, my thoughts and words to the realm of juvenile ramblings that should be encouraged but which does not need to be particularly minded.
If you afford me that respect, having read my words and thoughts and feelings here on this blog, would you do the same to Ben and Abbie whose natures are only hinted at through the filter that is my understanding of them, or would you afford them respect based on my understanding? Would you accept that they are brilliant and complex and deep and authentic based on my say so?
Would you do the same for anyone that is my age that you meet in the street for the first time without my recommendation? Would you realise the depth and passion of Jake Bugg only having heard his working class non-verbality in speech as he hung on a corner with his mates smoking cigarettes and looking bored?
Am I only what I appear to be, or am I more? Am I only surface, or do I have depth? Am I human, or am I just a mannequin? Is anyone? The gentleman at the park bench, and many others I meet, only judge me by my surface as a young male. Maybe they’re right.