Sharing with you another post from my son Chuck Murphree
Chuck has two books published and the third soon to be, all of his books can be found under his name at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com
He lives in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, with his wife and spoiled dogs. When Chuck isn’t writing, he can be found teaching adolescents, talking to others about mental health, reading, biking, doing yoga, or taking a mindful hike deep in the woods or straight up a mountain.
Life Lessons for My Students: Lesson Two: Celebrate Your Youth, But with Caution
Our society currently celebrates youth more than any time in our history. Social media has told us that you must have smooth skin and straight teeth, with a full set of hair, to be “liked.” We are seeing a false dialogue being read to our society telling us that aging is somehow a terrible thing. Yet, we should all want to age.
Youth is to be celebrated. I too was once young and felt invincible. I still do at times, when my nineteen-year-old self creeps into my brain and reminds me of clearer eyes. I was once more able bodied and less prone to injury. I had a full set of hair and a few less wrinkles around my eyes. I had less memory, only nineteen years’ worth, so my smile had not been stolen as frequently and my mind sent spiraling into dark places. My entire life was ahead of me, and the excitement of uncertainty was there, ready for me to explore. The problem is, we strive to hang on to our youth with all our might and the cost is great. We forget to continue celebrating the life that unfolds before us, thinking as if we lost something along the way. We often grieve for that loss, which is our youth.
We are meant to grow old if we are lucky. Life is extraordinary if we get to see ourselves in the mirror, changing each year as time goes by, and the reflection becomes someone we get to meet for the first time. That is how I approach aging. I am meeting myself for the first time through new thoughts, older memories, aging hands, a fading hairline, and eyes that are starting to blur. I like this new person I am meeting. He has experiences that I am proud of, and some that I am not, but I like his presence because he has become a reflective man. His wisdom is carrying me through life mindfully and allowing me to experience it all. The man before me is strong and capable and has built a foundation that allows him to bring understanding to his world. He has learned to serve others. He is aware that life will change, and that suffering is a part of the miraculous journey of his human experience.
Use caution when celebrating your youth. Use caution when mocking someone who is older than you. You too should want to reach their stature and display their gray hair. Your youth is impermanent. It will go away, and you will be middle aged before you know it. Yes, celebrate your youth, but celebrate the time you turn forty and fifty with just as much vigor and excitement. Say, “cheers” to the moment you reach sixty and seventy, and screech with joy if you make it to eighty. It is then that you know you have made it. It will be then that you will know all the dilemmas and dramas that you had anticipated in your mind during your youth, most likely never came to fruition. It will be then that you can become content with the face before you, secure in your presence.
I have heard some older folks say that getting old is cruel. I do not understand this, though I am not technically old yet. However, I have lived life into my early fifties, and I regret none of it. The pain in my body is from playing hard and placing myself well outside my zone of comfort. I challenged my mind and body often, and even though I paid the price for some of my feats, I am okay with the aches that are my reminders of what I have accomplished. I have seen things, glorious things, that make me thankful for the time I have had so far, and I know that if I am thankful for that time now, I will be grateful if I am blessed to have another thirty years.
One of my biggest complaints of aging is that the old do not listen to the young and the young do not listen to the old. We can all learn from each other. If nothing else, for those of us that are passing our midway point in life, the youth of today can remind us of the beautiful unknown of yesterday, when the mystery of life stood before us, and maybe give us the spark we need to light the fire in our belly to continue to discover new paths on our journey. For the young, tap into the aging masses and learn all you can from them because they have paved a path for you to follow. That is, if you are aware enough to use them as your guide.