THE PASSIONATE HEART NEVER AGES
Often old people have a touching mellowness about them. Age is not dependent on chronological time. Age is more related to a person's temperament. I know some young people who are about eighteen or twenty, they are so serious, grave and gloomy that they sound like ninety-year-olds. Conversely, I know some very old people who have hearts full of roguery, devilment and fun; there is a sparkle in their presence. When you meet them, you have a sense of light, lightness and gaiety. Sometimes in very old bodies there are incredibly young, wild souls looking out at you. It is so invigorating to meet a wild old person who has remained faithful to their wild life force. Meister Eckhart said that too in a more formal way: there is a place in the soul that is eternal. He says time makes you old but that there is a place in the soul which time cannot touch. It is a lovely thing to know this about your self. Even though time will inscribe your face, weaken your limbs and make your movements slower and, finally, empty your life, nevertheless there is still a place in your spirit that time can never get near. You are as young as you feel. If you begin to feel the warmth of your soul, there will be a youthfulness in you that no-one will ever be able to take away from you. Put more formally, this is a way of inhabiting the eternal side of your life. It would be sad on your one journey through life to miss out on this eternal presence around you and within you.
When a person is young there is a great intensity and sense of adventure. You want to do everything. You want it all and you want it now. Your young life is usually not a time for reflection. That is why Goethe said that youth is wasted on the young. You are going in all directions and you are not sure of your way. A neighbour of mine has a lot of difficulty with alcohol. The nearest pub is in the next town. If he wanted to get a ride to the pub he would have to go to the next village which lies in the opposite direction. My brother passed the car to give him a ride. But he refused, saying, 'Even though I'm walking this way I'm going the other way.' Many people in modern life are walking one way but their lives are going in the other direction. Old age offers the opportunity to integrate and bring together the multiplicity of directions that you have travelled. It is a time when you can bring the circle of your life together to where your longing can be awakened and new possibilities come alive for you.