What is Youth?

I recently started reading a book by John Robbins called Healthy at 100, and came across a powerful poem by Samuel Ullman, entitled “Youth”.

This is an occasion where the poem says it all and more – I am posting it here for your reflection to let it speak to and move you as it will.

Enjoy, here is to your youth!

Cox Bay, Tofino, BC, by LJ Lee

Samuel Ullman (1840-1924)

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a [person] of sixty more than a [child] of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.”

Adapted from the poem on the Samuel Ullman museum website:
(retrieved March 4, 2012)

And for my Japanese friends, the poem in Japanese can be found here: http://www.uab.edu/ullmanmuseum/samuel-ullman-museum-japanese

March 5, 2012