One of the great paradoxes of life is explained in Samuel Ullman’s poem YOUTH: “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind”
Failing to see the paradox that “youth” has another dimension other than time, can cause us to look outward for something that is inside all of us. Many folks live a life unsatisfied in search of the Fountain of Youth and other external solutions.
Instead, consider that:
It is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.” Samuel Ullman
It’s no wonder that this poem was a favorite of General Douglas MacArthur. In fact, he had a framed copy on the wall behind his desk (in his Tokyo office) while serving as the Supreme Allied Commander in Japan. He often quoted the poem in his speeches and read the entire poem at his 75th Birthday Celebration.[Tweet “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. Samuel Ullman #LFYCP”]
I’ve included it here and in my Leader’s Guide (free sign-up gift). I read it often. Nothing helps me maintain focus, perspective, and courage more than this gift from Samuel Ullman. I hope it will inspire you, too.
May you always pursue your ideals!
by Samuel Ullman
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 matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions;
It is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance
Of courage over timidity of the appetite,
For adventure over the love 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, fear, self-distrust bows the heart
And turns the spirit back to dust.
Whether sixty or sixteen,
There is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder,
The unfailing child-like 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 the waves of optimism,
There is hope you may die young at eighty.
Discussion Question: What is one thing you can do to strengthen an unfailing childlike appetite for what comes next?
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