Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Young at Heart

I recall as a youth being what you might call 'conservative'. I'm referring here not to conservatism in the political or religious sense but more in relation to the sort of things you might have expected an average teenager in the 1970s to be getting up to. I dabbled in neither smoking nor drinking. Other substances were completely out of the question too. Dating only really kicked off when I got towards the back end of my college degree. Not that I was a stuff-shirt by any means - I enjoyed a laugh and a prank as much as the next lad or lassie - but overall I would have been regarded as a responsible, upstanding, sensible young person.

So where am I going with this? I'm sure you have often heard the phrases "you can't put an old head on young shoulders" and "youth is wasted on the young". Well I'm probably the exception to the first phrase and as a result the second phase is probably true for me. I don't mean I wasted my youth in a bad sense - in many ways it was a wonderful time - but I often wonder could I have done more or spent my time differently. To give one example, as I exited college, top of my travel bucket list was to visit China - and I wanted to do it quickly while it still had the air of a forbidden destination. I did all the research, spoke to people who had visited but to cut a long story short the procrastinator in me won out and I have yet to realise my dream of going there.

Another phrase you often hear is "you're never too old" for whatever. While I agree with the sentiment behind this, the reality is that options do become more limited the older we get. Don't get me wrong - there is still much to be done, much to be achieved and plenty of opportunity as we get older. However, physical constraints do begin to kick in at some point (dodgy knees and a long-term bad back in my case).

What I am driving at is - if you have an inkling that you want to live life to the full, do it now. If you are young, appreciate the fact that you are most likely in the prime physical condition of our life. Take advantage of that to live out your dreams that may become a little more difficult as your joints stiffen up. If you are a little more 'senior' like myself, accept the fact that perhaps you can't physically do everything you could do 20 or 30 years ago but there is nonetheless a lot still to be experienced and achieved.

And one of the secrets to that is remaining young at heart. Don't lose the inner child. Sure, you can't put an old head on young shoulders but an old head can and should learn something from the exuberance, the abandon, the risk-taking of youth. It just might hold the key to some of the best experiences of your life as you get older.

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