Have you noticed how children never want to go to sleep? If you have been the parent of such a little creature you know I am telling the truth. Youngsters “fight sleep,” to the point of face-planting into their lunchtime bowl of soup or literally passing out while standing.
Why? Because there is so much to see, do, and not a minute to lose! There are so many see-saws on which to play, swings on which to fly, and monkey bars to climb! There are ice cream cones to eat, games to play, dogs to pet, mirrors to kiss, and friends to chase!
“Nap? Who needs a stinking nap!” That is the clarion call of sleep defiance. It’s only when the child is beyond exhaustion, when she can longer keep her eyelids from collapsing, that she buckles. But just as soon as she has her nap, she’s back to full speed, wide open, living the dream.
We who are older observe such youngsters and say things like, “I wish you could bottle and sell what they have…When I was that age I had that kind of energy too…Oh, they’ll grow up one day.” But many of us have done more than lose our energy, growing sleepy and tired. We have cynically lost our enthusiasm for life, and once you lose the zest for living, that sense of “attack” — you are near losing life all together — whether you are 19 or 90.
Your physical age really doesn’t matter, as you may have decades under your belt but still have the enthusiasm of a child. You can be old in years but still be young and lively in mindset. For youth is not a matter of chronological age. It is an attitude; a childlike perspective.
This flies right past most people in our society today, because when we start talking about “staying young,” the conversation almost always turns to someone like John Stamos or Cindy Crawford or some other quinquagenarian (a fancy word for someone in his or her fifties) who has seemingly found the fountain of youth.
This grinds my gears, as it measures one’s youthfulness based only on his or her outward appearance (not to mention that having enough money and skilled surgeons on retainer can make anyone look younger), and this misses the entire point.
True youthfulness is about curiosity; about remaining the perpetual student who is keen to learn, explore, and experience. It’s about being as active as you possibly can be — mentally, spiritually, and physically. It’s about joy in your heart and a smile on your face; about openness and eagerness. Is it no wonder that Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”
So as you get older, yes, you may need to take a few more naps, but fight with all you have the sleep of the soul. It will do more than age you. It will put you to sleep for good.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.