George Bernard Shaw said, "Youth is wasted on the young." Of course "young" is not as narrow a group as we'd like to think. Sure, teens get a bad rap for being a head-strong, reckless, live-for-today kind of people. Heck, we've now got scientific data about the incomplete development of this cortex or that lobe of the teen brain, which further solidifies the idea that young people are risk-takers...not able to make good choices about their long term future. (I actually read that the brain is not fully developed till age 25. "At What Age is the Human Brain Fully Developed?" Whew...glad to be past that mark- maybe this explains the age requirements for car rentals?)
Anyway, even with scientific evidence, I'm sure it is hard to pinpoint exactly when each of us moves beyond the thought process of "youth" and into more "mature" thinking. More long-term thinking. (My husband jokes that he stopped taking risks at age 12.) And although many of us become less inclined to take crazy risks as we get older, is there really any specific age that makes us think differently about life? About what we want to do with it? And what is it that changes us?
If I may state the obvious- an older person thinks he has less time to live than a younger person, and therefore values his time differently. At the end we are thinking more and more about what we did with our life- the legacy we can leave- whether our impact on the world, big or small, was positive or negative.
M are more likely to be bold and take risks- it's just that the risks they take are calculated differently. Through a different lens. With the mindset that life is going to end anyway, and there are some things that are worth dying for today. And with a focus and intensity that makes them think, "If only I had my younger years back, how much more I would do- could I do?"
Of course we can't have our years back- but we can have our years forward. We can use well the time we have left- but it is so easy to squander time when it seems to stretch in front of you forever. I mean, if I knew I had a month left to live I believe I'd be present with people- out doing and loving- I doubt I'd be cruising facebook and checking my email the way I currently do. That's why I so desperately need the wisdom of this verse:
Psalm 90:12- 12
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
I think as we grow there are things that naturally occur that help to number our days. And while there are some positive things that remind us of our age, (celebrating a graduation, marriage, child, etc.) I'd say many of the things in life that "teach us to number our days" are life's difficulties. Aside from the daily wear we see in the mirror, we tend to start struggling with health issues- we see mass tragedies and the deaths of those who were "too young"- we wrestle with the loss of a relationship, home, job. We rarely appreciate these things because they make us feel vulnerable, weak, and out of control. But as I look at the things I've struggled with in my life, I wonder if they aren't the very things God uses most to remind me that life is short.
And we can try to ignore death by prolonging the look and feel of youth- by upgrading our faces, dressing the part, trying to recreate the romance of youth. But ultimately doesn't it just leave us disillusioned? Ultimately don't we still end up in the same place- and with less to show for it?
In a perfect twist, to face mortality head on is not to be obsessed with death, but to actually LIVE to the fullest measure possible.
Labels: Live Fully