Connecting with Melissa on Youth Day
What is youth?
“Youth is the pollen that blows through the sky and does not ask why”. – Stephen Vincent Benet.
The definition of ‘youth’, as we are all accustomed to, as per the Oxford dictionary is as follows:
- (uncountable) the time of life when a person is young, especially the time before a child becomes an adult.
The quality of the state of being ‘young’.
It comes in many shapes and sizes, however, and really, we can expand on the nature of how we view the word. Children are ‘young’. Animals birth their ‘young’. We speak of fruit trees being too ‘young’ and not yet mature enough to bear fruit.
As a parent and many an adult who has the pleasure of close kinship with a younger person will vouch for, we oftentimes say, “Don’t wish your ‘youth’ away”, to a teenager. It seems life just happens upon us, and we reach a stage, whether or not we are fully aware of how we got there is a story for another day, where you find yourself saying, “When I was younger…” or “In my youth…”!
When one IS young, however, or indeed still in the grasps of their ‘youth’, they don’t realise the value of it. Or perhaps that is the outlook taken from the viewpoint of having crossed the threshold of youth and looking back at those who are STILL in their ‘youth’ or at a ‘young’ age. I do believe, however, that youth, as a state of being, need not be limited by a time frame that we as a human race have seemed to box into the confined boundaries of that thing called ’age’.
Youth begins by having fun, playing, interacting, and exploring in the wild. There is a certain freedom and unquestionable trust that comes with being a child, in their search for what is, in this life. The learning journey, beginning with taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound… Which gradually progresses into thought processes that are formed by and from the connectedness of our 5 senses.
But life happens, and as many of you reading this will know from your own experiences, or perhaps you will not, but there is no rule book to this beautiful, messy, hard, frustrating, rewarding, varied and exciting thing we call life! We all have our own ideas of how we live it, and we are the only ones in control of how we choose to spend the time that is given to us!
When it is challenging and you feel you can’t go on, is when we forget the freedom that we felt when we were young. And by freedom here, I refer not to the accountabilities and responsibilities that come with time, but to the “state of being”. As we age, we gain wisdom from our experiences. I have always believed that nothing we do is a mistake – if we learn from it. A mistake made twice becomes a choice. Therein lies a profound difference! It is during these times that we need to remember that actually, all we CAN do is our best. Right here. Right now.
I’d like to paint a picture in your mind’s eye for you, of a five-year-old child, with all their senses alive and in tune entirely to their surroundings. They go down to the beach with mom and dad for a walk in the early morning sunshine. They take their shoes off the minute they step off the cement footpath, and race ahead of their parents, feeling the sand between their toes, still crisp and chilly from the cool night air, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable. The summer sun is warm upon their face as they trot towards the shore, anticipating the feeling of the cool water curling around their 10 little toes. The rock pools are exposed at low tide – guess what that means!!! The chance to explore the incredible ocean critters and treasures that abound! This little five-year-old finds a dwarf cushion starfish – their first-ever! In that moment, there is nothing but awe and wonder at the discovery. Sheer joy and utter excitement as they point out the new discovery to mom and dad!
This…. That wonderment is what I, as an adult, try always to remind myself of in my daily life. It is definitely not always easy, anything but. When life throws some lemons your way, this is where the choice comes in, because really, if we choose to, there IS something beautiful and special to see in every day.
Which leads me to why I believe youth is something we need not ever lose, no matter our age.
COVID-19 took the world by storm and surprise. It has taught many things to all of us. Life-altering for certain for an exceptionally large percentage of people, especially those whose livelihoods rely on personal contact, like hospitality and tourism as well as the beauty industry. It has been devastating in this regard. Personal relationships have been tried and tested and will powers stretched to their limits. But if there is ONE thing that many, many people I know in my own life have realised, is that we HAVE TO SLOW DOWN. We must learn to BE in the moment again.
As we were when we were ‘young’…
And in the finest words of Walt Disney himself, “Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”
Young, or youth, need not be confined by the constraints of age.
Youth lives in your mind.