The advice of their elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
I take Justice Holme’s thought as a simple statement of fact rather than a derisive evaluation of the vicissitudes of youth. Note that he qualifies his statement with ‘apt’ – he is not ruling out that some young men will take advice.
When we sew a leader’s patch on to our uniforms we accept a few things about working with young people.
We accept that gaining any skill is more or less an exercise of trial and error.
Error is not failure. Rather it is a part and parcel of learning.
The desire to innovate, experiment and to arrive at knowledge through one’s own process of discovery is to be encouraged – it is how us elders learned most of what we know.
What we have seen and experienced hundreds of times is a whole new world to younger folks.
Advice is not a command but a suggestion of possible courses of action.
What is written in “the hundred best books” was written by the innovators, experimenters and discoverers.
We elders sometimes look down our noses at the callowness of youth and think that they know so little they must wake up in a new world every day, Waking up in a new world every day? Sounds pretty good to me!
If we are truly wise we will strive to wake up in a new world every day.