I remember sitting on a plane when I was 18. I was going to visit my uncle and do a little skiing in Utah. There was a young man about the same age as me, sitting next to me in the airplane.
We talked about life in general and various topics, and eventually starting sharing some of our individual philosophies on life in general. I remember one comment of his distinctly.
He said that he didn’t want to learn anything from anyone, but wanted to learn everything in life himself and make his own mistakes. Even at the young age of 18, I could see through his rationalization. As long as he convinced himself that this was acceptable logic, he did not need to obey any authority figure, he did not need to give respect to any of his elders, he was not responsible for his actions because it was all just part of his learning experience.
There is a poem by John Holmes that tells of a young boy who sits with a shipbuilder. As the boy watches the shipbuilder perfect some ships and throw away others half done, it occurs to the boy:
I wouldn't have known that however you build it, The ship must sail; you can't explain to the ocean.
If you try to explain to the ocean that you didn’t have time to finish sealing the floor of the ship, or that the hardwood that doesn’t rot is too expensive, the ocean doesn’t care.
And so I think of the young man on the plane. How much time did he waste? How many addictions did he gladly take on in his folly and faulted rationalization?
Whatever his rationalization or excuse as he built his ship in life with cankered hull, he can’t explain it to the ocean.
To learn from playing a game is fine, but if your life is on the line, only a fool would build a ship himself without advice or learning, and set sail across the ocean to find out the best way to build a ship.
35 O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.
Young men, look to those older and (I know it’s hard for you to believe) but wiser men who have already walked where you are walking. Rid yourselves of those rationalizations that might make you feel confident in your foolishness, and have enough humility to ask for advice before you complete the ship that you will be using for your life’s voyage.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints