This I Believe

Ronda - Arroyo Grande, California
Entered on May 24, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

The flame on a birthday cake candle is just as bright when you blow it out as when you first light it, the flame does not diminish. I believe we, too, were intended to burn bright from the beginning to the end of our life, I believe we should die young…as late as possible!

Our first birthday gifts, on the day we are born, are the innate qualities that make us extraordinary and exceptional: among them are curiosity, wonder, play, optimism, resilience, humor and love. Famed anthropologist Ashley Montagu called these youthful characteristics neoteny and claimed that by maintaining these traits late into life, we can be young all the days of our lives.

You may have 25 candles on your next birthday cake, but if you have lost your wonder, if you have to drag yourself to your job, if you are pessimistic about the future and complain about your past, if you stop asking questions and have given up your dreams, then you are old. I am well into my 3rd box of birthday candles and I am growing young by jumping for joy, daring to try, choosing to see my life as half –way started instead of half-way over and working daily to build a resilient and age-less self, and so can you.

Get a photo of yourself when you were a kid and put it up on your wall to remind you of your dreams, your talents, your hopes and to reacquaint you with the original you that is at the root of you-th. Look at that picture everyday and strive to uncover the pure and irrepressible spirit that still lives within you. He or she is there, trust me, waiting to come out to play.

Middle age, mid-life, boomer, senior, nip or tuck, pills or procedures, none offer you a sustainable model for aging. No matter how much money you spend, no matter how many surgeries you have, no matter how many years you deny when asked your age, you will still grow chronologically older, if you are lucky. Wrinkles may line your face, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles your soul.

And who, really, would you rather be, or who would you rather spend time with, someone mummified or someone who is creating and maintaining a self that is alive and evolving?

Picasso said, “It takes one a long time to grow young”. I believe the golden seeds of our youth haven’t died, they just haven’t been tended. We can refresh the very traits that were ours at the beginning of our lives to insure that every day and every year of our lives are filled with a bright and burning intensity…I believe we can choose to grow young, no matter how many candles are on our next birthday cake.