Frank Sinatra immortalized the very classic “Young at Heart” back in 1953. It has become standard advice for maintaining a youthful attitude in life. But sometimes it’s helpful to look at ideas from other perspectives. The heart goes through a lot in this life.
I do everything I can to keep “young at heart” in a physical sense. But I think being “older at heart” has some advantages. People with older hearts have had a lot of practice in loving and figuring out what really matters at the end of the day.
Obviously, all ages practice this. It’s just that experience is a good teacher, and experience generally takes time. When we start out in life, it is totally about us. We are gradually trained in the concept of “other.” Share your toy with the “other” child in our home. Let the “other” go first. It’s not always an easily won battle.
But we keep practicing, getting it wrong, and learning. We have parents and teachers who help us see what it means not to be selfish, not to be mean, not to use the word “hate” when talking about others. We are learning the “art of the heart.”
My younger heart was more self focused, more judgmental, more comparative, more wrapped up in romantic feelings about love. My older heart has learned something about “sharing” and that always involves giving away something of myself.
It could mean giving physical things, but most often it means giving an ear or a shoulder or a word of encouragement. It could mean wishing them well as we let them go. It could mean forgiving someone for that thing we want to hold on to. It could mean responding the wrong way, but apologizing and trying to do better next time.
As Rod Stewart sang, “This old heart of mine, been broke a thousand times…” Older hearts have been broken over and over again. Older hearts have stitches and duct tape and band aids deep beneath the surface, each one telling a story of loss and sorrow. But broken things get made stronger as we allow the mending process to have its way.
Staying young at heart physically is as important as anything else I do, but I’m getting more comfortable with being “older at heart” in other ways. Perfectly drawn hearts don’t represent older hearts. Those have been hammered and bent and twisted into something that might not look very aesthetic, but there’s so much beauty to eyes that peer beyond appearance.
The next time we see a wrinkle on a face–be it ours or someone we love–let’s remember that something of beauty picked up and moved to the heart.
“Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts.” Martin Buxbaum