Age: Why its an attitude, not a number and what we can learn from our younger selves.
“I’ve often felt that people ought to be more child-like, not childish mind you, but child-like on the wonder of the world that’s around them.”-Twenty-five year old me, Edinburgh, Scotland 1993.
At the age of twenty-five and less than a year after losing my mother to ovarian cancer I quit my job at a bank in Atlanta and set off for a two month long backpacking tour of Europe, New Zealand and Australia. I wasn’t sure who I’d meet or what I’d find along the way, but I knew that I was ready to shed the confines of my life as I knew it and to just go.
Several months ago while rummaging through some drawers in a cabinet I came across the journal I had written during my time on the road twenty-two years earlier and going back through it was an eye-opener to say the least. Although some excerpts might not be fit for print, I began to realize that there’s actually a whole lot of wisdom in youth as an as yet a un-jaded perspective can be refreshing in its lack of guile and openness to the possibilities which lie ahead in life. Basically, I liked what my younger self was focusing on.
As I read on through adventures across continents and interactions with individuals from around the world I began to realize something: I liked the voice of the person who was speaking to me from a point in my life that I’d been removed from the day to day rigors of modern life. A person who existed prior to cell phones and the internet and who simply wasn’t afraid to strike out on a different path. And then it hit me: that person, that twenty-five year old who had been rocked by losing his mother and had set out to find meaning and purpose in life was still me. Basically, as I read on I realized there was no separation between that twenty-five year old and the guy I’ve become today.
Where I’d reached a point of being jaded by the experience of losing a wife, both my parents, my in laws and other loved ones and dealing with the day to day rigors of having to deal with leading a city on a daily basis, I heard a youthful voice that remained in me speaking to an optimistic outlook, an old soul view of loss and a belief in the future. Basically, I heard myself and have been forever changed by simply realizing that its never a bad thing to have a youthful view on life and that age truly is never a number but an attitude that we can all change.
I’m forty-seven years old. I love what I wrote when I was twenty-five. Am I the same person now that I was then? Probably not. But can I learn a tremendous amount from my thoughts then and apply them to what I do now? Absolutely. The yin and yang tatoo I have to this day on my ankle was meant to remind me of one thing: you were young once and you should always remember it.