Columnists > Each Wellspring member makes a daily decision to live not for the feathering of her own nest

09 June 2016 | by Carmody Grey

Each Wellspring member makes a daily decision to live not for the feathering of her own nest


Something changes in the mind of a young person when their university education ends. In the cultural narrative of their lives, this is when “real life” starts. And with it, the perception that their task now is not to be enriched and stimulated, but to get on, to get ahead, to heave themselves up on to the first rung of that ladder of life which begins with a job and leads to car, house, mortgage, pension.

Watching this process reminds me of the journeys made by baby leatherback turtles as they flip-flop their way to the ocean, gulls and gannets plucking at them on every side. For young people today, setting out to climb the ladder of “real life” is similarly treacherous. With a difficult employment market, huge student debts and little or no parental capital to support them, for many the dream of owning their own home is more than remote; it borders on the fantastical.

But more than this, there is something deeply worrying in the notion that this struggle constitutes “real life”. Not only does it devalue those unrepeatable early years which, in their freshness of perception, could claim to touch reality in a deeper way than the years of adulthood. More concerningly, it seems to identify as maturity the task that this ladder represents, bypassing the deep and serious question of whether this is what life is fundamentally about.


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