Currently gushing over the awesomeness of these moments, right here:
Thanks to the inspiration of a late-night photo upload, tonight’s post is about the importance of staying ; forever young. “Ahh, to be young again”… right? News flash: you can be. And, I would argue that you should be.
First, to be clear: “young,” in this case, does not mean “irresponsible,” “immature,” or “an excuse to do whatever you want without regard to consequence or consideration of others.” Basically, acting like an idiot is not the same as acting young. (Ageism is real, people. And we all know plenty of ridiculous adults.)
However, I would be okay with you thinking about the Rod Stewart song or the Bob Dylan song (later covered by The Pretenders and performed by Norah Jones as a Steve Jobs tribute, which might be my favorite version). Maybe click those links for some background music as you read the rest of this post. I think everything sounds better with background music, anyway.
Now, look at those pictures again.
Seriously (or, maybe not seriously at all,) you can feel the sheer joy, right? Be honest. Even if you didn’t realize it as it was happening, you smiled when you saw these photos. You may still be smiling. (It’s okay. I am, too. See? )
I love these shots, because it’s moments like 300 high school students starting a dance party to Fun’s “We Are Young” in the auditorium aisles before the closing session of a leadership conference, or like 15 of Ohio State’s most dedicated, intelligent, reliable student leaders choosing to commemorate a year of hard work in a moment of pure silliness, that help you remember really important things like:
A) Don’t apologize for your excitement and enthusiasm
B) Don’t “water down” your personality in response to some sort of arbitrary social expectation
C) Don’t ever stop playing, creating, or dreaming. You’ll become down right boring.
Reflecting on the lessons in these photos tonight also led me back to one of my all-time favorite books, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is choc full of insight about the value of staying in touch with the qualities and practices often associated with youth, snuck into the prose in a way that is subtle, yet profound. Chapter one lays the ground work for a series of stories to come in later chapters, all of which will make you think, make you smile, and make you remember a time when you felt a bit less inhibited, a bit more curious, and most likely a lot more happy. (See below for an excerpt.)
We may not be able to forever run around like we are 8, or to forever look like we are 18 (no matter how much the housewives of __(insert city)__ and their plastic surgeons may try), but that Ponce de Leon guy may have been onto something. I hope this inspires you to at least consider getting in touch with the part of yourself that knows how to stay forever young in mind and spirit, where it really counts. Happy searching, ya’ll.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – Chapter 1
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.
In the book it said: “Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion.”
I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked something like this:
I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.
But they answered: “Frightened? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?”
My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:
The grown-ups’ response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
So then I chose another profession, and learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown a little over all parts of the world; and it is true that geography has been very useful to me. At a glance I can distinguish China from Arizona. If one gets lost in the night, such knowledge is valuable.
In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.
Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:
“That is a hat.”
Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or jungles, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a reasonable person.