Growing old… NOT! December 2, 2008Posted by Marc Troeger in humor, journey, life.
Tags: acceptance, aging, growing old, staying young
I turned forty a few years ago… but it didn’t bother me at the time. A few weeks ago, I innocently mentioned several aches and a few pains to my wife after doing an early morning run. Her response: “That’s what happens when you get older.
My response back her through clenched teeth: “I-am-not-going-to-get-older!” And that’s the truth.
I refuse to feel my age. I refuse to recognize a little of the spread that’s taking place in my mid-section. I refuse to acknowledge the grays appearing on my top section. And I refuse to give up on the youth that I have always felt within me; the silliness, that care-free attitude toward life… that quest for adventure every waking hour. But, then… how do I ignore the inevitable?
I came up against that question once again, very recently while reading a book by Joe Simpson. Joe is best known for the incredible account of trial and tragedy in the mountains in his book Touching the Void. In his latest book, The Beckoning of Silence, he writes on many topics surrounding his mountaineering adventures, the loss of close friends and an introspective look at the risks he has taken in his life and what that means to him today. In particular, he relies on his insight and wisdom of his age (he is the same age as me!) and writes about youth and old age. In challenging his own advance down the trek of time, he offers this quote by Samuel Ullman [updated 9/27/10 with the correct author reference]:
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a temper of the Will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions. It is a freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a tempermental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty more than in a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin; but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the heart and turn the greening spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and at starlike things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what next and the joy of the game of living. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
Yeah… me… that’s me… I-am-not-going-to-get-old!