Write It Out: Teen years merit honest review

Dick Avery in his 1959 high school graduation photo at New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Ill.

As a teen, I wish I had spent less time complaining and more time affirming; less time worrying about my image and seeking to please others; less time being concerned about propriety and convention, and more time striving for authenticity and courage.

I wish I had spent less time trying to win arguments and more time developing relationships; less time focused on things, more time focused on people and ideas; less time on my wants and more time on others’ needs; less time acquiring and more time giving and serving; less time being busy and more time reflecting, praying and seeking solitude.

I wish I had spent less time in our suburban cocoon and more time in the city, the country and the world; more time at the family farm.

I wish I had spent less time being parochial and more time gaining a worldview. I wish I had spent more time asking my parents and grandparents and other family members questions about their lives, philosophies, regrets, passions and accomplishments.

I wish I had spent more time dating girls who may have been less attractive, but deep in character and substance. I wish I had spent more time seeking out people who were spilled upon and marginalized, more time getting to know people different from me.

I wish I had spent more time painting, practicing tennis, the trumpet and the piano; more time fishing; more time laughing and learning good jokes; more time looking for opportunities; more time learning to read better; more time studying the Bible.

I wish I had spent more time developing my capacity to love. I wish I had spent less time on me and my will and more time on God and God’s will.

Write it Out

• This Boomer U reader, Dick Avery, answered this prompt today: “I wish I had spent less time as a teen doing … and more time doing …”

• Here’s a prompt still in circulation: “Spiritual writer Thomas Merton wrote near the end of his life: ‘The things I thought were so important – because of the effort I put into them – have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered.’

What in your life has mattered more than you expected it would?”

• Avery also sent along some prompts that are open for discussion, including:

“In 10 years, I would like to be …”

“Since adolescence the three-year period in which I experienced the most personal growth was…and these are the ways in which I grew …”

“I want my legacy to be …”

• Keep your essays between 200 and 400 words. Email them to rebeccan@spokesman.com, and please include a daytime phone number for verification.

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