How to Stay Young (Part One)


My mom was a person who always seemed young. She had so many interests! Getting her Docotrate in Naturopathy at the age of 62 was an indication of her unending interest in life and helping others! And she did not quit picking up books and learning about the latest techniques in her field until shortly before she died.

Father Daniel Lord, 1950’s, suggests that these are the very things that will keep us young, in spite of a body that is slowing down….

Young Souls

Youth, maturity, and old age are not a matter merely or even mostly of the body. They are very much a matter of mind, of soul, of emotions. It is rather interesting to notice what groups have a way of staying very young and very much alive.

High in that list all of us would, I think, place artists of almost all types (except those who wreck their youth with folly or excesses of any kind). Actors and actresses stay young. Scientists have a way of remaining young in ripe old age.

Authors often remain youthful and alert quite beyond their period of productivity; they keep on running, like old Shaw himself or H. G. Wells or Dickens or the long-bearded poets.

And when baseball players are tottering to the dugout for the last time, musicians and painters and philosophers are just starting off to a good healthy swing at the ball of their particular art or craft. T

hen saints have an astounding way of staying young. They remain the youngest of the sons and daughters of our race. Many of them seem actually to have found the fountain of perpetual youth. But we’ll come back to them later.

So I think that the whole fundamental measure of youth comes down to this: How alert is your mind? How responsive is your soul? How quick are your reactions? How many interests have you? Is the world wonderful to you, or is it a bore? Do you find most things delightful or annoying? Are you fond of new acquaintances and devoted to old friends?

While you are on the watch for new marvels, do you keep all your affection for the old astonishing things that have always delighted you?

Young Aged

One meets with gratifying regularity old people who are intensely young. I am thinking at the moment of one old lady who is well into her eighties. Her personality dominates the family circle, and she is by all odds the alivest one in the group.

Nothing escapes her interests. She is alternately amazed and amused and concerned by the happenings in her home circle and in the world.She knows all the baseball scores, and she can tell you the odds on the current heavyweight contender.

She enjoys good music and pores over current literature. She is up to the minute on political questions and has violent opinions on every new issue as it arises. She wants all the news of her family and her family’s families. She has become a sort of clearinghouse for the harmless gossip of the family and of the neighborhood.

She sews, and she hums as she sews. She is equally at home with a needle, a book, a rosary, or a cool convivial drink in her hand. No one ever thinks of her as being old.

Only the heaviness of her body and the slow dimming of her hearing keep her from seeming as young as her granddaughters. And when she meticulously cares for her complexion before she retires, using all the correct creams and cleansers, it seems, not the affected vanity of an old woman, but the perfectly proper conduct for one with so young a personality.

Within Control

No doubt about it youth is aliveness, interest, vivid response. Now note: While it is not always possible to retain the youthfulness of our arteries and the pliability of our muscles, it is possible for even the person of little education to keep his interests alive, to develop new interests constantly, and to be youthful in mind and soul.

I have known old Irishmen who could scarcely read but who had souls and minds that were responsive to everything that went on around them. They were interested in everything that happened, in everyone they met.

How different from the young man who sits dozing in the corner of the porch, cigarette pendant from loose lip, daydreaming or entirely dreamless in the midst of a world that is simply pulsing with excitement and wonder and beauty and the march of events and the dance of the days.

I have known old Germans who woke to beautiful life when they heard good music, even though they themselves could perhaps read not a line of it.

To Stay Young

I have known old teachers who remained as young as the pupils they taught, and younger. It was almost as if the youngsters that came into their classroom left behind them some of their youth to keep their teachers eternally young. Often the teachers were vastly younger than the old, bored, uninterested, incapable-of-being-stimulated young people that passed unresponsively through their hands.

So there is just this simple recipe for remaining young: Stay interested—biologically interested. Yes; staying young is a matter of keeping the mind and soul young. And that consists in keeping one’s interest alive. Plenty of interests, plenty of life. Quick of response, much alive. No interests, already old. No response, already dead.

Two Rules

Now it is essential to remember two things:

First no one can keep another person alive. Each one must do this for himself.

Second it really is not very important what sort of interest one develops. Any interest that has permanence will do. Interest in practically anything will serve to keep a person alert, absorbed, alive.

I should like to stress that first point because I grow weary when I see young people who depend upon others for their interests. It is quite true that when a stimulating adult crosses a youngster’s path, that youngster is most fortunate. Some sparks from the electric generator of the adult’s personality may serve to set the young person afire with interests and enthusiasms.

Thrice blessed is the child of alert parents, parents whose interests are varied and spontaneous yet carefully cultivated. Twice happy the young person who finds himself within the magnetic field of some grown man or woman who has kept at high frequency his or her power of response.

But in the long run the seed of aliveness will be found to be within the individual. It requires self-expansion, self-development.

A mother and a father give their child physical life; they and the doctors and the nurses and the teachers nourish and care for that young life. Eventually they turn that physical life over to the care of the child, who makes it, mars it, develops it, stunts it as he wishes.

And the aliveness of his mind and soul in time becomes his responsibility in exactly the same fashion as his body is his responsibility.

Thank you all so much for your kind comments on the Giveaway post. I read each one and they brought a smile to my lips and warmth to my heart! Your words are encouraging…thank you!

And now….The winner of the Finer Femininity Giveaway is…

Congratulations Courtney! I have sent you an email!

If we could get people to work together without jealousy, it would help God’s work immensely. . . .
Are there any against whom I feel tempted to bear a grudge? Any of whose misfortunes I feel a little pleasure in hearing? Why am I willing to listen to conversation disparaging to someone else? Can I cleanse my soul of touchiness and jealousy? How can I become more and more unselfish, and efface myself?
Let me put aside considerations of my own satisfaction. . . . Ask Our Lord in Holy Communion to free you from touchiness and jealousy. -Fr. Daniel Considine, 1950’s

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