If you work in the news after you graduate from college, you will have no life. That’s why, after you graduate, everyone associates you with the “real world.”
“How’s it feel to be part of the real world?” my parents’ friends ask me, as if I was some sort of Pinocchio-boy character who never knew what real was before graduating from Ithaca College this past May. They never ask how life is, because everyone secretly knows that it’s virtually impossible to have a life outside of your job.
Believe me, I’ve tried. I work the overnight shift as a news producer at 13 WHAM-TV in Rochester: 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday to Friday. I go into work when it’s dark and leave before the sun comes up. I’m Edward Cullen minus the sparkles.
But something began to change my mind recently — something rather unexpected. I came across a news story that was a bit out of the ordinary while listening to one of my many podcasts. There’s a place in Arizona just outside of Scottsdale called Taliesin West. It’s a compound surrounded by blissful desert, pristine red rock and the breathtaking McDowell Mountains, home to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
The complex was started in the 1930s by Wright and some of his students, who spent years digging sun-scorched ground and rocks to create this vast compound of buildings, rooms and, arguably, revolutionary approaches to architecture. But all of it was started by Wright. Here’s the thing: Frank Lloyd Wright was 70 years old when he did this. And he didn’t just sit back and let his students work the shovels and construction equipment. He got right in there and dug with them. It should go without saying, but let’s just put it out there: There aren’t many 70-year-old people who could put together something so masterful. Or are there?
You would be amazed at how much there is to accomplish in the world, regardless of what your gender, sex, economic status or even age may be. Right up the road from the college, there is a senior living community called Longview. Longview is the home of dozens of elderly men and women who have lived decades longer than we have, and thus have an incredible amount of life experience. I think it’s safe to say that when most people our age think of the words “elderly” or “senior living,” they are euphemisms for old people who can’t take care of themselves and whose lives have passed them by. But that’s simply not true.
We, who are young, have so much energy, so much potential to cause and create in this world. And while we may have initiative and grand ideas, there are men and women who have come before us who have also had initiative and grand ideas. The more time we spend with them, the more they can impart their wisdom into our lives. If we can fuse their insight with our energy, like Wright did in Arizona, there’s no telling where our ingenuities will take us.
I’d encourage you all to get involved with the elderly or senior citizens if you can. Spending time with seniors is something I love doing, because it showed me that while I might not have much of a life outside of my career at the moment, the ideas and visions I have for my future are both obtainable and worthwhile. Trust me, senior citizens are more than worth our time. And we just might be worth theirs.
Seth Palmer ’10 is a television news producer in Rochester, N.Y. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.