My parents are with us from Nigeria for a number of weeks and I have had the honor of taking them to various places in eastern Canada and observing them closely.
They arrived with several books they are reading. They are both entrepreneurs who should be slowing down but they are far from it. They are both full of ideas they want to implement when they get back home. They keep learning at every opportunity. They both have the unbounded curiosity of children and are so full of life and energy.
We went to Mt Tremblant two weekends ago, one day after my Dad’s 74th birthday and I was thoroughly impressed by how physically agile this young couple are. We could have taken the cable car up the mountain but both of them requested to hike. We hiked a good distance and there was no sign of panting or needing to slow down on the way up or down.
Last weekend, we went to my Dad’s alma mater, University of New Brunswick for a reunion of sorts. It was amazing to see how well loved he was by his school mates many of whom went out of their way to spend time with him even though they had not seen each other for 41 years. His classmate, Bill Macmullin and his wife Anne, such wonderful hosts, disallowed us from staying in a hotel. One of his schoolmates said, “Femi, we all loved you.”
I have a goodly heritage.
When your 74 year old Dad is still as agile as he was at 27, you know you have a long way to go. When your Mom who will be 66 next Friday is eager to blaze new trails in child care, you have to conclude your life is just beginning. On our way back from New Brunswick my Dad said, “I am thinking new thoughts.” Haba! Little wonder he is so young. I had better think newer thoughts!
This heritage is not so much a fact to rest on as a baseline below which I refuse to fall. Both parents make me conclude I am still very much in my formative years and I have a very long way to go spiritually, mentally, physically and impact-wise.
The easiest way to plateau is to ever let it cross your mind that you have arrived. It makes 30 year olds act like 80. You stop learning because you “graduated” 40 years ago. You stop discovering just because you became “enlightened” 35 years ago, failing to realize that in the grand scheme of things, we are all children, will always be children and had better be children.
My life is just beginning.
I found this apt but long Samuel Ullman poem on Youth, in Konosuke Matsushita’s biography.
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 temper of the will; a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over a life of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty, more than a boy 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, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair, bow the head and turn the spirit back to dust.
Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder; the unfailing childlike 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 waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.