An Ode to Youth

yli is My Story

I’ve been told I walk around with stiff shoulders and a hurried look on my face. I think it’s because of where I live.

Let me explain.

I think I’m pretty good at my job. I’m good at anticipating challenges, being organized, scheduling, strategizing the purpose behind everything. I’m always trying to be two steps ahead of any problem that comes up so I can produce the best work.

And so, as you can imagine, when I meet an energetic youth who is so in the moment – it can really loosen my shoulders.

M. has been with VoiceWaves here in Long Beach for years, and over that time they’ve brought more than just great storytelling to our office culture. They have this smile that spreads across the room and provokes more across others’ faces. They literally can (and have) taken the mic at our events to do an impromptu freestyle that has audiences raging. It might be about a social issue. It might be about love and relationships.

At the office, I can literally be editing a sobering report on gentrification one minute (heck I’m stiffing up as I write this), then revolve my chair around to see M. dancing to some cumbia remixes on YouTube for some reason. And for what reason? Where’s the strategy or purpose behind that?

Well, it’s just because!

You see, I’ve heard that some people live in the past. Where I live is in the future. For both, it can be hard to enjoy the moment sometimes.

But M. lives in the present. And sometimes the purpose behind doing something is just because.

That’s what M teaches me. To be present. That not all life is like a strategy of chess but is also about dance.

And I wouldn’t change anything about them.