The following poem by Samuel Ullman hung over the desk of General Douglas MacArthur while he oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951 and helped create sweeping economic, political and social changes.
“Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair, these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.
Whether seventy or seventeen there is in every beings heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement of the stars and the starlight things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events and the childlike appetite for what’s next, and the joy and the game of life.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear. So long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man, and from the infinite, so long you are young.”
If you would like to read more about Samuel Ullman and this poem, you might try Margaret E. Armbrester’s biography: Samuel Ullman and “Youth”: The Life, the Legacy (Amazon).