Being old for me has less to do with one's physical age than with intellectual and emotional rigidity. It is true that, for the most part, this rigidity is linked to one's actual age. As people grow older, they are less capable of absorbing new ideas. At the same time, the strength of emotions they can experience fades in comparison to what they used to be able to feel decades ago. Still, some people come to stagnate intellectualy and emotionally at 25, while others maintain a freshness of perception at 70.
Nobody wants to grow old. For me, the best way to avoid it is to combat our natural tendency to intellectual and emotional complacency. When people start getting annoyed with new ideas, new technology (e.g. the Kindle, the i-phone, etc.), new ways of communication (blogging, the Twitter, etc.) this means that they are slipping into the old age of the intellect.
The belief that teenagers and people in their early twenties are somehow less moral, less intelligent, less mature, or in any way worse than we used to be at that age, is also characteristic of this rigidity. (As an educator, I know for a fact that the growing generation is truly worthy of admiration, so anybody who complains about today's kids is completely wrong). The desire to judge the younger generation arises from feeling that you no longer belong to it, that you are growing irreparably and uncontrollably old.
Emotional youth is, in my opinion, a capacity to feel excited and happy about new things and new experiences. There is an age when people stop dreaming about visiting new places, stop reading new books, stop learning and feeling. And that is old age, whenever it actually happens.
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