You have often seen a group of boys tramping off to a ball game, or going swimming, always expecting to have fun. How their eyes sparkle and the corners of their mouths turn up. They are laughing, singing, dancing, following some natural rhythm as though joy were at the center of everything.
There is an abandonment in them, a carefree attitude, and so often we say, “Isn’t it too bad they must grow up and become disillusioned, that they have to enter the struggle for life and gradually be worn down with it until the boy in them is dead.” And with the poet we think, “Turn backward, turn backward, O time in thy flight, and make me a child again, just for tonight.”
But somehow or other we feel this is all wrong. We do not feel and we cannot believe that This Thing Called Life meant it this way. We know, as though something were forever telling us that we are created to be glad, to rejoice. What happened to us when we became adults that dampened this spontaneous joy and robbed us of that zestful anticipation which gives skill to the hands and speed to the feet?
It is a lack of enthusiasm. It is a lack of being able to enter into the game of life and play it, not merely as an onlooker, but as a participant, for we want to be out there pitching, too. We want to be out there batting for a home run.
My mother lived to be nearly a hundred years old, merely because she had an enthusiasm for life. Right to the last moment it was that way. There was nothing heavy or weighty about it, nothing sad, not even a sigh, no regrets – just a passing on from the twilight of this day into the dawn of a new tomorrow.
This is the secret – entering into the spirit of life, into the joy of living, into the usefulness of being alive. No one can grow old if he has faith and enthusiasm. We need to rediscover the well-springs of that childlike joy which gave us the happiness, the security and the faith we had as children.