Youth is eternal as it’s the life in your years that matters

Long time ago, a man in his twenties asked my father, “Uncle how old are you?” My father was in his mid-seventies then. With a twinkle in his eye, dad answered the question with a question, “How old do you think I am?”

The young man thought he had offended my dad, so he covered up by saying, “Not old, not old at all uncle, in fact young I’d say!” My dad replied, “Correct! I am not much older than you son. I could match you activity for activity, I could wake with the dawn and sleep as late as you, I could drink you under the table son and still drive myself home...You are as young as you feel. It’s not the years in your life that matter, it’s the life in your years that matter!”

Dad would wake before any of us, sit out in the garden, be it summer or winter, with his morning cuppa chai, take the dogs out for their walk, work all day, party if need be and still have a smile on his face. The only thing that would get him grouchy would be a bad tempered person or a fool! I saw, by example, that energy equals youth. It’s your life force that counts, not the candles you blow out.

One day, we tried to sum up what exactly is youth. He said, youth is always willing to learn, willing to change, willing to adapt, inexhaustible energy, a sunny disposition, a sense of adventure, discovering yourself each moment. There are as many definitions of youth as there are people on earth.

I have a mentor who told us that youth is the only hope for the future. Science can make all the strides it can, but if you can’t hand over the baton to someone who can keep the world safe, it will implode!

Youth is the time to fly. If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl. Just don’t stop moving forward and believing in yourself. It’s imperative to build momentum in your life; inertia is the biggest devil. Like a vampire, it sucks the life force out of you. You just have to shake it off.

Swayed by media and peer pressure, many young people seem to ‘age’ very fast these days. Get jaded. They seem to feel it’s the end of life if they do not have the right partner, or the right mobile, or the right car, or the right job, or enough money.

It is important we see these things for what they are and do not get deceived by them. It is your youth, your life force that is precious, almost invaluable. It is equally foolish to buy into the notion, if I look good and if botox works, then I am young. Youth is a reflection of your life force. Happiness is what keeps us looking young forever. Each of us was born to be happy and happiness comes when we tap into our potential.

It’s been seven years since dad passed away, but I can hear his voice as clearly as the birds on the windowsill, “Don’t be in a hurry to grow up, then you will be young forever. You are as young as the smile on your face!” I still believe in the promise he made me!

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)

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