• "We can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over . . . we are so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility, because in the end it is all we have." That was written by 22-year-old Marina Keegan, an aspiring writer in New York, who recently died in a car crash less than three days after writing it.
Those words in many ways sum up the possibilities of life as young adults. When I was 16, I worked alongside someone who seemed ancient to me at 24. He had done everything right: no sex before his impending marriage after a four-year courtship, no partying, no swearing at football matches, even when he was playing, no late Mass on Sunday and never missed work on a Monday.
He tried to impress on me that there is nothing beyond the crossroads that is not already here. I had escaped from an industrial school and had yet to find my parents who had abandoned me over a decade earlier.
I wanted to believe that there was much more to life than what I already had, which was just shy of nothing, and that he was wrong.
Life turned out to be a compromise for us both almost 40 years on. He had settled for stability rather than happiness. He carries regrets. So do I.
I should have been more sensible about money and partying. But I was never going to grow old, which was a mathematical certainty back then. I should have listened to him but instead, became even bolder. The only real regret now is that I wish I could do it all over again within the same limitless boundaries that youth has to offer.
There are risks, but the passivity of safety leaves no story to tell. That is, if you get the chance to tell your story at all.