Forever Young

I came across this photo on Stock.Xchang earlier and fell in love with it. I love how the tree spreads to fill the image and is framed against the ocean’s glare, how the ocean blends into the sky. The empty bench seems almost sad as well, like there’s no one there to appreciate the beauty… I’m a bit of an amateur photographer and it makes me feel jealous!

What it reminds me of more than anything is summer. It just feels bright and summery. I like the summer months. Well, I don’t enjoy the heat; sometimes it tops 40Β° C in Sydney and not many people enjoy that. But I like the feeling that comes with summer, the extra light and warmth wiping away the last cobwebs of winter. I love the fresh smell in the air; the lazy days running into one another; sitting under a tree, watching the people go by.

Whenever I think of summer it brings back my adolescence. Some of my fondest memories come from the summer months, on days just like the one in the photo. Playing cricket with my father in the school nets; watching the tennis on TV and playing on the weekends under the hot sun. Listening to Rob Thomas’s and Santana’s Smooth. Drinking a half-melted Calippo, biting into a juicy peach… walks along the beach, the sun gleaming off the ocean.

I cherish those memories but thinking about them also makes me feel sad in a way. I’m at the age where I’m accepting more responsibility and control in my life, but the trade-off is that those days are behind me. I’m happy with who I am but sometimes I miss that feeling. Not wanting to see the world through younger eyes, but to be more carefree and not let things get to me so much. In some ways I wish I could stay forever young.

I love Alphaville’s Forever Young. It was released the year I was born and it’s such a haunting song. There are a couple of lines I’ve always related to.

Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don’t they stay young?

I’ve always thought the lyrics aren’t just about staying young and growing older but also about beauty…. I’ve noticed recently that I don’t look at the world in the same way as I did before. That’s not necessarily bad, but what I used to stop and notice around me now I don’t notice as often. My life has more priorities; I have less time to sit and watch the world go by. I find that sad… if I can’t find time to appreciate beauty, what’s the point of all the rest?

People say that you’re only as old as you feel inside and I know what they mean… I think for as long as I live my heart will remember how I felt during those golden summers and I’ll never lose it. But there is a danger in that as well. It’s simple to value the past so much that we become lost in it; that we’d want to spend more time with our memories and watching old TV series than experiencing the present. That’s something I never want to do; I value life and my journey too much for that. What I think staying forever young really means is holding onto the joys of our life as we move forward; if we can do that, then we are never old. And if our memory lives on, we never die.

The photo reminded me of that, the empty bench looking out at the ocean… and it reminded me again that I need to take more time to look at the world around me, its beauty. As a writer I’ve been looking at the world in terms of people, but that’s only a small part of life.

Strange how something as simple as a photo could touch me so much. But then beauty comes in all forms; it’s our job to recognise it. And I was lucky enough to this time.

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3 thoughts on “Forever Young

  1. You’re kind of young to be thinking this way–but, ahhh, those golden summers do bring it out, don’t they? I get it, though. Adulthood is very different. I think there are things we can do to recapture the joy and innocence without staying mentally attached to a time gone by. You can still taste the peach, walk along the water, and watch the world go by on a day off, but just from your adult perspective.
    I loved this poignant evocative post. I hope this is ok to say to your male self πŸ™‚ but I found it touching and sweet!

    CJ: Summer always does this to me; it’s just something about the lazy days that makes me want to look back. Maybe it’s heatstroke. πŸ˜‰

    I agree about recapturing the experience; we need to carry the feeling forward so that it stays fresh in our lives. But I suppose I’ve never liked the way society defines “adulthood” either, that we should think or act in a set way because we’re a certain age… I think experience matters more, being experienced in the world. Someone like Chris McCandless would be an example; he died at 24 but experienced more than many people would in a lifetime… it’s all about finding a balance, in the end.

    Thanks, Muse; I’m glad you found the post touching! My male self can access that side of himself sometimes – but let’s keep that to ourselves, eh? πŸ˜€

  2. Hi CJ,
    I loved this post, from the photo to the sentiment. It is funny how reflective we can get just by finding a photograph that communicates so much. And you’re right, noticingt what is around us, the beauty, does keep us young and alive.

    Merry Christmas.
    Annie

    CJ: Thanks, Annie. I always find myself thinking about the past around Christmas, and then I saw the photo which seemed to sum up everything perfectly; it was very timely! πŸ˜‰

    I’d never imagined something like that could touch me so much, but it’s these small things which make us appreciate what we have… as you said, it keeps us young and alive.

    Have a great Christmas!

  3. Thank you for the link to Chris McCandless. I didn’t know anything about him. What a life! He seems like he was odd, but determined. I share some of his interests (not the physical endurance, though!) like his appreciation for lone quests, and Thoreau & Walden.
    I’m moved to read the book, as I wonder what motivated him. Good holidays to you!

    CJ: I’ve been fascinated with Chris McCandless for a while; I haven’t read the book yet (I mean to) but I’ve read a few articles on him and his experience seems to represent how many young men look at coming of age (perhaps foolishly). It’s sad when someone dies so young, but McCandless experienced more than most of us ever will.

    You could easily dismiss his death as being unnecessary; he wasn’t properly prepared to live in the wild, and even a map could have saved his life. But at the same time he experienced something amazing and beautiful… so does that make his death needless or tragic? That’s what attracts me to the story; I can see both sides… but I think there’s a lot to be learnt from Chris McCandless, particularly in how we look at life and society.

    I’m definitely going to check out the book when I get a chance; and the movie by Sean Penn is very beautiful. I’d definitely recommend that too. πŸ˜‰

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