How flexible are you?

“Gather you rosebuds while ye may”, by the English poet Robert Herrick. This is a little poem we are all familiar with from childhood or early school. It seems to be telling us that youth is the best time to catch a spouse or to accomplish some things and that if we wait too long, “we may forever tarry.” However, today, we see many people waiting longer to get married and many more couples choosing not to marry. Robert Herrick’s quote may be less germane and even seem antiquated to the present generation. The emphasis today is on speed and action. Delay and reflection is often seen as weakness rather then strength. We live in a society that appears to value youth and vitality more than maturity and wisdom. This is not to say that youth and speed cannot be assets.

What is the real value of youth? It seems to me, it is more than just a time to marry, get things done, find a spouse, take action or even see the world. Youth is a time of flexibility. It is a time when patterns have not been set in stone. It is a time to explore and look at options. Granted, you do not have to be young to do these things. However, as we age, many of us become more set in our ways. We have learned many likes and dislikes. Age can bring inflexibility or even ruts from habits that are well worn.

Data on vehicle accidents seem to point to the relative advantages and disadvantages of age and youth. Data for accidents show peaks for youth and the elderly and declines in between the two extremes of age. The young are brash and lack experience but have great reflexes while the elderly have the experience but lack the timing and reflexes.

Thus, youth is less about gathering rosebuds and more about experimentation and creativity. Can we keep these options open as we age? To some degree, the answer is yes. Much of creativity and flexibility is a state of mind (the body is a different issue).The key is to find ways to continue flexing your mind and spirit. Ask yourself today “In what areas, have I become settled and complacent?” When was the last time I tried something really new or went somewhere new? When was the last time I took a class or made a new friend? Can you still go out and find some rosebuds or have you given up the quest? What would it take for you to start something new this week or this month? What have you always wanted to do and never started? Why not start today or this week?

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