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Sunday, 7 December 2008

I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore

There's a song in "Gigi" called I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore.

We live very much in youth culture - I believe that is truer in America than in England, though I might be mistaken about that - and people go to such extremes to remove any signs of ageing, as though it is shameful to no longer be young.

Nature has no such qualms. Nature goes through her seasons so happily and the wise old trees are equally beautiful as the saplings, often more so. The trees and flowers are so refreshing in the spring, but the trees in the winter have a loveliness of their own. It's a wisdom, a certainty, a sense of everything being as it should be. Faces which are stretched and pulled tight by a scalpel are not nearly as beautiful to me as faces that tell a story - misery, selfishness, kindness, laughter - all these things are etched into faces and do we really want to remove those signs of life experience? Those signs of wisdom?

There are elderly people who take great pride in being old - why? It's no great honour to say you lived a long time. Equally there are people who are terrified of being old. Why? It's no great honour to say you are young. Surely, it's how we live that matters. Age is utterly irrelevant.

Having said that, and thinking I'm glad I'm not young anymore - isn't there something wonderful about being beyond the angst and self-consciousness of youth? Isn't there something wonderful about being able to feel deeply and not feel the world is about to collapse because something unpleasant has happened to you? Isn't there something wonderful about having the experience of so many different people coming in and out of your life that you gain a fuller picture? What is really sad to me, is that perhaps many people who want to appear eternally youthful, are really trying to capture a youth they never enjoyed or they live in fear of worse to come.

The most beautiful thing of all is surely to maintain the wonder of children, the excitement of adolescence, the confidence of early adulthood, and combine that with the wisdom of experience. Who cares how many years we've been here? The question really is, are we doing here what we came here to do?

So, if you wake on a Monday morning with a face like an old sack and wonder where the years went, why not think, "Well, this old sack is filled with goodies! I'll bring them out today like a magician brings a rabbit from a hat, with a young and happy heart!"

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