Spirit Of Youth Against Fear Of Old Age
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The purpose of these pages is not to instruct in prevention of disease, the passing of the years, the final exit, but simply to suggest remedies for fear-feeling inspired by the thought of such things. Only courage is our goal, and this involves various other qualities which not only destroy fear but impart to life a price-ess zest.
To invite youth into the soul's life is to summon its gracious companions. Thus, in order to work out our regimes (to appear in the next chapter), we need to understand the nature of youth, that the self may suggest to itself incessantly the things that constitute youth and give it value.
When we try to picture youth, we always ignore its clouds, storms and mishaps, and we surround some ideal human with Nature's fairest scenes. Youth means to us the forward look and the assurance: "I shall arrive! I have won! Greater things yet shall I achieve!" This is our thought of boy or girl and it is the truth. That truth the man and the woman see, each in a different way, but never in a manner to blur the beautiful fact. The "Man in the Moon" for-ever lures the race: the face is the face of youth to either woman or man, youth faring immortally on.
She sees the features of a maiden's face
Always youth symbolizes the self aflame facing love and good fortune, with the courage-will alert and afire to go on and on, and to win, and to have joy of existence. Therefore we picture youth as overarched by azure skies, and guarded by verdure-clad hills, and invited by green fields and woods, and entranced by the song of birds and streams, and lured by the call of ocean afar the call of the infinite and of power.
The sounds we hear in such a picture are laugh-ter, and whispers of love, and words that vibrate with courage and confidence. Youth rides the chariot of the sun. Youth inhales the incense of Religion's Temple till crusades issue forth in every era. Youth guides the vast machinery of world-industry, dictates the turn of fortune's wheel, flashes the sword of war, masters the earth as a gift to sheer love and passion of love. Youth comes the world thrills. Youth always comes and dazzles us till we see not age and death. Youth is for every soul once at least, and the divine gift is almost worth failing age and death itself. Youth would be worth all things could we take the splendoring gift as we might take it, instead of permitting, as we do, the cheat of advancing age and ageing experience to rob us of its continuance. If you will hold the youth that is yours, or re-seize the youth that may be yours, the glory of it shall be worth whatever comes to body for nothing evil comes to youth regained.
The youth-feeling of self-life may be preserved and may be recaptured if only you are resolute in the wooing of it.
An analysis of youth is merely an analysis of things which any human intelligence may achieve. Let us see:
ITEM ONE. Youth means a splendid interest in life. This interest involves, for example
A self that is young: the body's activities; variety; achievements; means and methods thereto; competition and prizes; adventures; new scenes and experiences; amusements; successes; instruments of action; excitements; hazards; triumphs. By the action of certain social instincts youth is interested in other people, selected by temperament, and in their lives, their reverses, their successes.
Youth is stirred by the vast and the wonderful, and ever does it discover such incitements to interest. In the beginning life thrills at everything; then gradually selects the objects of its special or lasting attention; but so long as youth holds, the selection holds, or the selecting process runs on and on.
And youth is intensely interested in life: just physical being, mental existence, and so it always tends to optimism and idealism.
Finally comes love. It may be of a conventional and mild type, it may be a magnificent passion, for some individual of the opposite sex who is idealized in dumb ecstacy.
These are some of youth's most excellent qualities and interests. Thus we come to what may be called
A FIRST INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH. This regime falls between the general regimes concerning the normal satisfaction of life and the regimes of the next chapter relating to so-called evil events, because youth has that satisfaction and may guard against those events.
The paragraphs analyzing youth are not mere writing: they are intended as suggestive pointers for practical use. You are invited to read and re-read them, noting their truth, dwelling upon the truth, seeking to feel the inspiration of youth's magical interest in the matters referred to. Take a bath in the thought of youth. You are invited as follows:
1. Let it be assumed that you are still young. In that case you should resolve always to retain the zest, the interest-urge, which belongs to youth par excellence.
2. Driven to confess that you have passed the mere years of youth and have begun the folly of counting yourself old, and of apprehending weakness and age, resolve to capture this lost kingdom, as surely you may if you will but accept the regimes here offered and employ them in your daily life.
ITEM Two. Again, youth is characterized by its perennial enthusiasm. It is the time of objective superlatives, vivid descriptions. Let not teachers succeed in reducing your language to stereotyped dead excellence. Better wild roses than cut hedges, excess of color than bloodless clays. "Enthusiasm" derives its word-meaning from a Greek word., enthous, "to be full of the God," "having a god within," inspired, since en signifies "having" and theos, "a god." This god within reveals himself in language and action chosen to express the blazing and abounding interest of life. Youth is enthusiastic, and in the trait it discloses one of its greatest values. Here, again, then, we specialize, and present
A SECOND INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH.
1. If you are yet young in years and spirit, cling to life's enthusiasms.
2. If you miss the spirit of young Iife, proceed to reawaken the dual feeling of enthusiastic interest in self and in the world with which you come in contact.
ITEM THREE. A wonderful trait always discover-able in youth is its courage. The exuberant sense of well-being overflows in action, daring, adventure. Fear is not native to youth, and if fear spring up now and then in the young heart, it is quickly downed as alien and contradiction. Youth does not think of time, cares not for obstacles in the way of its desires, is apt to be contemptuous of foes, and holds old age to be impossible. It is because youth is courageous that it is impatient and thoughtless. Courage is sense of power, and the power must needs be used, since the feeling is intense and imperious. It is natural for youth to be courageous: cours cors, "heart;" "of good heart" as it is for " angels" to be lovable. Remember, and hold fast, and conquer fear.
A THIRD INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH.
1. If you are young, guard your courage, feed its fires, keep it clean of ashes, give it the draft of life.
2. Have your years begun to suggest the "melancholy days"? Then discount some of your caution, put a dash of recklessness into your conservatism, give the laugh of scorn to all fear-feelings, and, arousing your mind to a new search for new interests and renewed enthusiasms of all sorts, bring back to heart and soul the flying light of courage. Dare to be young; be young in your daring. All things are yours in the only world that lasts the world of thought and imagination the world of youth. And only the world that lasts is worth while.
ITEM FOUR. Youth is confident. Doddering age deals out stale counsel, but youth calls for war, invention, conquest, achievement. "Wisdom" has received undue honor. It settles into its throne and calls for homageand falls asleep while youth hints the ever-right wisdom of the new and the better. Wisdom puts its house in order and assumes that this house and this order are infallible. Youth searches out a finer building and creates a nobler order and is all unwitting of its doing a good thing. The wisdom of age blinds the old to the flash of fortune and dulls the aged spirit to the velvet touch of unseen wings the wings of opportunity. Opportunity comes but once to the self holding council with its own convictions. Youth, holding convictions only so long as they serve, catches the flash, notes the brushing of pinions against its blooded cheek, and sees opportunity everywhere. Youth is alertness: the wild animal vibrant to every influence, the human intelligence so alive with itself that it intuits the meaning of things, the call and touch and urge of a Universe pressing upon it with the closeness and the stimulation of the flesh on the soul. So, youth is incessantly moved to action and to venture.
Youth is keyed to Nature and toned to life. Inter-est, enthusiasm, courage and confidence thrill it, tense it, make it divinely watchful watchful to self-feeling and self-thought, watchful to the new and the freshly possible, watchful to realities and ideals, watchful to opportunity and progress, watchful to realities and ideals, watchful to opportunity and progress, watchful to the joy and the laugh and the heroism of existence. This quality itself is priceless, and so, combined with other facets on the diamond of living, makes a human defiant of the fear and the canker of age. It needs not to pawn the jewel: that possession convinces the world of its wealth.
A FOURTH INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH.
1. YOU are invited to drive your mind out of settlements of wisdom and the rules of the years and the apathy of that overpraised state, maturity, and to recover the joy and the power of youth's untiring alertness if you have begun to think the folly, "I am growing old."
2. And into all life, if you are still young, you are urged to throw alertness of eye, ear, hand, fancy, intuition, talent of discovery, divine knowingness values which have no price and which you may, if you will, hold forever.
Why must a man or a woman become stale? Why must you assume that the time of lethargy and blindness is bound to arrive? Why must you mummify still further into such conditions if you discover that divine alertness has come less and less to companion with you? There is no reason in the nature of things for the arriving or the continuance of such a state. The essential nature of things is spirit, not dead leaves; and if leaves die and matter falls down the ways of life to inertness, you are spirit, part of that wondrous reality which is forever climbing the ways of life, alert always to the "just above."
ITEM FIVE. Youth is idealistic. Love is blind, it is said. This is no truth. Love is open-eyed to see the hidden and the undeveloped. Sex-love sees the lovely or the godlike body which the material misfit covers. True sex-love never makes a mistake. Soul-body seeks soul-body, not for creation, but for joy of togetherness. Love's idealism does not imagine: it does not create: it finds. The sex-life phases the psychic magnetism which, when the sex-life works true, never runs falsely. The quality called Beauty is merely the Desirable according to psychic needs. Psychic magnetism pushes together two Desirables. Body visible phases invisible body, and soul desirable rushes to desirable soul. There are few real marriages. Matter, and insane passion, and "wise" conventions throw us together so hurriedly that the heavenly chemistry has scant opportunity to demonstrate the intention of this union. The blindness of love is due not to love, but to false world-life. The idealism at which we laugh is misunderstood: we laugh at our own folly. The real idealism is ideal-realismthe finding in a human body of a body unseen and a self not fully expressed, which our unseen body and our nobler soul must possess, if it would live.
All this belongs to youth. Youth idealizes carelessly, happily, inconsistently, with flitting attention but that idealism is the truth. Youth babbles of the "Beauty of Nature." Why, Nature is beautiful. Youth elevates some or all Women to high place. Why, the high place is every woman's own place. There never has breathed a lost Magdalene some atom or part of whom has not been left there on the high place of womanhood. In something unwrecked in all men we must believe. The idealism of youth is its true vision of the true real. Youth feels life to be Splendid. Why, life is splendid if its intention has the love of the sun in it. It is splendid to see with eyes, hear with ears, perceive with mind, feel with heart; splendid to breathe, and be, and move about, and create a Universe within, and plan and achieve, and will and carry out. Every flower, field, wood, river, sea, star, is more beautiful than I can see -- idealism is truth. All music is more lovely than I can hear: idealism is truth. Every woman is more adorable than I can recognize: idealism is truth. Every man is nobler than I can know: idealism is truth. All values are more valuable than I can estimate: idealism is truth. All prizes are worth more than I can make out: idealism Is truth. When the values, prizes, adorablenesses pall on us, the feeling does not belittle the things; it merely proves that we have sunk below them or have grown past them.
The alternative is significant. To sink below the ideals is to die. And, to grow past the ideals and set up no other ideals is also to die.
When we call past ideals stale, we either confess decay or we call truth a lie. But to grow past ideals by finding other ideals is to live. When we do this find other ideals succeeding other past ideals - we assist truth in growing into more self-identifying forms.
Always youth does precisely these things. It passes realized ideals, but the fact that it finds new ideals shows that it still reckons the old as ideals in their day truths, not lies. And so youth lives be-cause it idealizes.
A FIFTH INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH.
1. Especially, then, I urge that, if you wish to body-live, sex-live, soul-live, you should yield to no deception that an ideal, once an ideal, can ever be other than ideal. Thus you keep sweet and fresh the attitude, the mood, the habit, of idealism. This is to live!
2. Or, if young, you are vehemently urged to remain young by holding deep in your heart the divine plan of idealizing all things. So will you maintain life's satisfaction in itself, and thus, all the qualities of youth; and so will the lure of the ideal preserve its spell in your heart to bring you to achievement and happiness. Also, as must be evident, will you find yourself a stranger to doubt, the sneer, the suspicion, the poison of carping criticism. Do not fear the overdoing of idealism so long as you remain a practical worker in life. Fear rather the ageing influence of the dry rot of mere practicality.
The Grand Canon of the Colorado, in Arizona, no artist could over-color. Behold in yourself a rift in the Infinite, and let infinite idealization maintain you in your place there.
And if you fear age, meet the fear with ideals of thought and with ideal feeling, so that the truth shall become more real to you: "Nature and life are indeed splendid and worth the best that is in me."
ITEM SIX. Happiness is the assured heritage of youth. Life seems new prior to twenty, and interest then flares unceasingly. With renewing zest in action, enthusiasm of thought and feeling, abounding courage, confidence always rising Phoenix-like from the ashes of yesterday, and imagination clothing the world with high significance, youth is bound to be perennially happy. Not always is youth cheerful (another matter), but the opposite mood is superficial unless permitted to become habitual which it never can become in true youth. Cheerfulness is natural where life is normal, but the habit of moroseness is a crin 3 because it is a kind of pleasure due to the perversion of the nature of things. Youth does not, as youth, pervert; it merely experiments. The want of cheerfulness in the young is experimental only. Nor is youth always found in a state of pleasure. It is too many-sided. It is too inventive. It devises new pleasures, discarding old ones, because the psychic factor must maintain interest and enthusiasm, and idealism is always on a quest. But youth is, if normal, fundamentally always happy. Life has not yet learned the crime of dissatisfaction with itself. Life's inherent self-satisfaction insures deep and perennial happiness to youth. The latter does not try to be happy. The combination indicated is a contradiction. If you try to be happy, you are unhappy. There are people who make desperate efforts to be cheerful. The absurdity will be evident if I print on a large card for every room in my house or self this legend: "I will be cheerful, d n it!" The fact is, cheerfulness, pleasures, or happiness must be sought indirectly. The indirection runs the way of law. Find the principle of cheer, the rule of pleasure, the law of happiness and obey! Then the nature of things brings the reward. When you try for a thing, you go straight at it. In this case you also take to it something not consistent with it, as seen in the printed card, and thus defeat the pursuit. But when you harmonize with principle, rule, law, you leave that inconsistent something behind, you forget it, and then the prize is yours. Youth tries to be cheerful, and irritates the world; seeks pleasure, and worries the whole earth. But when youth is just its own glorious self, it is happy, down to the ground and up to the skies. Then the world forgets even death. Youth always is normally happy because it is always indirect in its dealings with itself. It only deals with itself through other things. Take love as an example. We love a woman, a man, and shout: "I will give you my life will die for you!" We really mean: "I want you for my own happiness!" We unconsciously pretend that we care only for the happiness of the be-loved object, but every one knows it is our own happiness we seek. We cultivate our own interest indirectly through this beautiful deception which the other person believes because he or she also follows the same method. Thus everywhere. Youth is really happy because it does not try to be happy, but flames with interest, enthusiasm, confidence, courage, alertness and ideal-ism. And so, in conclusion, I give you an infallible multiple Rule for True Happiness:
Keep life's interests alive!
Be enthusiastic in sheer living!
Fear naught! Trust destiny confidently!
Catch opportunity and all her brood of details on the wing!
Idealize clay and worship the beautiful which is always true!
Have a passion for achievement and genuine success. (You will not then run on any quest for happiness, since the prize will be yours perennially.)
The happiness of youth is expression. The expression phases the indirection which does not knock at heavenly gates, but walks the way of harmony, and is always opening gates to a heaven that is ever present.
A SIXTH INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH.
1. YOU are urged to keep well to this highway, if young, by maintaining the traits which make you young.
2. If many years are yours, you are invited to initiate those traits assuming, asserting, making good until they become yours again, never more to pass from you.
ITEM SEVEN. Youth is passion for prizes, goals, achievements. When so-called "happiness" walks in wooden shoes, or dodders before the fire-place of meaty comfort, we know that it was born with infantile paralysis. The doctors do not cure infantile paralysis nor does the preacher who cozzens bed-ridden respect-ability. It is the masseuer who arouses inactive nerves while the physicians deplore " unprofessional methods." For bed-ridden respectability no cure is possible. Happiness never yet fruited from inaction, aimlessness, fussy running to and fro. Happiness is the Infinite breathing up into a live self. The live self always has purpose burning at the core. Life without passion is worthless. Existence validifies in some immense passion to be or to do. That is youth. The lungs of it crave fire, and the heart of it lava. This is right, because Nature says it is right. Breathing fire and circulating lava constitute running government, business, art, religion, and race-preservation. Civilization is not water. Progress is the push of piston before steam and steam is matter in a passion. People grow old because they settle down to breathing common air and circulating a pink blood. Youth knows better and is happy and creative. You remain young so long as you have fire in your lungs and lava in your arteries. Less than these is death or, worse, old age. It is some fine passion: passion to be, to do, to get, to win out splendidly, that makes youth the power it is.
A SEVENTH INTERLUDE REGIME OF YOUTH. OUR advices, then, are evident. 1. Let youth hold fast its deep passions for prizes and victories.
Existence comes to best In qualities that give it zest: In intuition swift and passions bold. And these are youth's at worst Wines of all years distilling first That man may drink, and know, and ne'er grow old.
2. If you have lost somewhat of your youth, here lies your highway of recovery. Bring back to heart and mind, as you may if you will, the passion that wings the self to success.