The Second Youth…

I am somewhat beginning to embrace my age, but note that quite a bit of the emphasis is placed on the “somewhat”.  I think this is a good thing as I approach my official entry into senior citizen menu viability, lest I have an unseemly meltdown at a Denny’s somewhere when it hits me all at once.  It is time my friends to face that age is a privilege, and experience – well, that is a blessing.

It is said that youth is wasted on the young.  But youth (in summary) is really just a state of mind, a level of innocence, and an unsatisfied curiosity.  It is not wasted on the young, it is more accurately viewed as a mechanism of growth.  Growth is alive and vibrant and dynamic…growth signifies life.  The challenge is to realize that growth can be a lifelong adventure, not just the folly of youth.

I think there are signposts in life that once followed can make us feel like we have abandoned our youth for more adult-like pursuits – things like settling down, building a career, getting married, and raising a family.  In reality, these too are areas for growth, but they lack the blissful ignorance and disregard that we view as part and parcel of youth and too often see these as more static stages of our lives.  But once we are secure in jobs, relationships, and are beginning to think about the notion of empty nests, it settles in that there is a second youth to be had – more growth in unrestrained and undefined directions.  Well, relatively unrestrained and undefined – there are more considerations in a second youth such as where your roots are, your economic limits, and the status of your health.  But really, the possibilities for growth are only limited by one’s imagination and sense of self.

I think growth choices when you are more “seasoned” can be both small and large. Dramatic choices make sense when you realize your life – just by the measure of years – is passing by quickly.  But small choices – taking classes, pursuing a new hobby, or making new friends – also amount to growth and new experiences.  The universe is growth-friendly, you just have to realize that it is an essential part of being alive and there is no time in your life that you have to, or should be expected to, stop experiencing new things and growing.

Growth is essential to life and this notion that we “grow old” is a ridiculous and limiting way of thinking.  We age.  Just as the toddler turns two and the tween crosses into the glorious status of being a teenager – we all age.  I will soon cross into the jazz hands age category (that is 55 for the youngsters out there who have no reference point for what jazz hands look like – all fingers, both hands, all aflutter).  There may have been a time when I would have tried to dial-down that number or only whispered it when being forced to provide it, but I have increasingly found that saying I am 54 is liberating, particularly when surrounded by flocks of 18-24 year old students.  I have come to accept the fact that I have grown in a hundred different ways in the decades longer that I have been on the planet and that young people do serve as a reminder that I am old, but instead a reminder of all the places I have been and seen from there to here.

Now, let me be clear, I do not spend every day screaming from the rooftops about how lovely it is to be 54, but I increasingly I share it with relative abandon.  I think I am growing in this area.  I think that when I can get on top of the rooftops and scream my age I will have embraced fully my second youth.  Listen carefully…it’s coming. 😉

Day one thousand four hundred and eight of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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