Young At Heart

Young At Heart

The youngest people at heart that I know include a radiant 93 year old great-grandmother from Switzerland, Ruth, who has experienced many losses in her life, yet continues to defy her biological age by swimming THIRTY laps every day, always learning new things, always interested in new recipes to cook for family and friends, and who is delighted to be around and host grandchildren and their friends. So beloved is she that she was chosen to be a flower girl at her grandson’s wedding. And at their wedding party, Ruth danced up a storm!

Needless to say, I prefer being around her than many people half or a quarter her age or younger! She’s fun! And yes, she has worries and will confide them, but they are never in the forefront. They don’t change her attitude about living, about life.

For me, striving to be Young at Heart is PRICELESS! It is a place of creative possibilities, of freshness, of new beginnings, of opportunities. It counters the boredom of the jaded, the attitude of knowing ‘too much’ so the situation seems hopeless, and the oppressive weight of those in perennial grief. It might not be sophisticated, or worldly, or ‘realistic’ whatever that means, but being young at heart is so, so much nicer to be around!

Have you looked into the eyes of someone and there is no expression, no life in the eyes, they look shut down, weighted down, almost dead. You can feel their heaviness, and they seem old, regardless of their biological age. I look into the eyes of the 93-year-old friend and see a light that is simply beautiful to behold.

When I encounter someone, say in a store or restaurant who has that unresponsive look about them, I make it a point to beam at them, ask them questions, engage with them, and if possible, compliment them sincerely about their … nails, hair, efficiency, whatever is real. And gradually, I see them come back to life. They have dropped years during our conversation.

We all go through experiences that can weigh us down from a major health crisis with an uncertain outcome, struggles at school (my goodness, chemistry though- I just don’t get it), loneliness (my closest friends have moved away and on to new lives) and that boss gave me contradictory information and I feel inadequate for the task… We also have beliefs that weigh us down, such as ‘My family has a long history of depression or addiction, so it is inevitable that I will suffer from one or both of them.’

And that’s where being around the young at heart helps us. They are our teachers for and in life. They encounter similar adversities, but they don’t focus on them. They look at what there is to be grateful for right now. They love to smile and laugh even when their teeth are broken, or they can no longer wear shoes with heels, or no longer drive. They appreciate life and connection with what is around them, even when in a care unit of a retirement home. They see the beauty and appreciate it deeply.

May we all aspire to be young at heart! It’s just more fun.

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