An Open Letter to Every Person Between the Ages of Nine and Twenty-four

Colun by Michael Alcorn
Posted 11/12/19

You’re scaring me. Look, I know we’ve stuck you in a world that’s in disarray. We’re a little confused, ourselves. We’re not sure if we’re supposed to tell you to work hard, stay focused …

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An Open Letter to Every Person Between the Ages of Nine and Twenty-four

Posted

You’re scaring me.

Look, I know we’ve stuck you in a world that’s in disarray. We’re a little confused, ourselves. We’re not sure if we’re supposed to tell you to work hard, stay focused and earn good grades because that’s the key to your futures, or if we’re supposed to stay quiet about it because we don’t want to cause you anxiety, or if we’re supposed to tell you to keep quiet about your accomplishments because you might make other kids feel bad about themselves.

Of course, that’s kind of presuming that there are adults anywhere in your life advising you to do anything at all. Too many of you are on your own out there. And the saddest part of that, is that some of you are better off on your own than under the influence of the adults around you.

You go to school, and you sit through your annual assemblies about the evils of bullying, but then you look at the world around you, and all you see is grown-up bullies. Drive a little too slowly, get yelled at. Take a parking spot, get yelled at. Vote for the wrong person, get yelled at. Heck, vote for the right person, but not be vocal enough about it, and you get yelled at.

Blow the call as a youth sports referee, get yelled at. Get followed to the parking lot and threatened. I mean, for goodness’ sake, we’ve got “adults” getting in full-blown brawls at a 7-year old baseball game.

It’s no wonder you’re confused.

And, in the meantime, every time you turn on the television or open a newspa… um, I mean, open the news app on your phone, it seems like there’s some new story about how the world is going to end soon. And then you make the mistake of flipping over to one of your social media apps and the cesspool leaps out at you.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to try to grow up in this world, either.

Thing is, there’s an awful lot of real beauty here. There’s dogs, for one thing. There’s sunrises, and sunsets, and fresh-fallen snow. There’s Christmas lights, and Christmas music; the white sand beaches of the Florida Gulf coast, or the rocky shores of California; the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, and the quiet beauty of the high plains.

But, I get it. Some of those things just don’t have the power to overcome the daily ugliness and emptiness we’ve surrounded you with.

But this can’t be all there is. And it isn’t. I believe there’s something much better after all this. This, this mortal coil, this never-ending drama of knaves and fools, this Shadowland, is just the warm-up act, like the ventriloquist who keeps the audience entertained before Bruno Mars or Kanye comes out. Someday, the grey curtain of this life will roll back with the swift sunrise, and become like silver glass, leading to white shores and a far, green country. A place of such alive-ness that you can smell the color green, and the fruits taste like purple. Where streams of fresh water run, which sing to you of refreshment and rest. And over each hill is another place that’s even better than the one before.

And the people in this something are healed. In fact, they feel so good when they’re here that they don’t have the energy to be angry, or resentful, or hurtful. And they celebrate that you’re here.

I also believe that you only get to this something in its own time, in its own way, and that this warm-up act, these shadows, must be suffered so you can appreciate it all the more.

Don’t rush towards death. The shadows can’t follow you into eternity unless you take them with you. And believe me — TRUST ME — there are people here whose own shadows are only kept at bay by *your* light.

We need you here. The world is better with you in it.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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