by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

“And a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

When I think of a child — remembering when my daughter was a baby — I think of the love a child has for each new day. She loves everything she is doing and seeing in each moment. Every day is a new adventure of discovery and imagination. Nothing can concern or worry her. Nothing can depress or stress her. Nothing can take her peace and joy.

A child may fall as he learns to walk, but he simply gets up and keeps on walking. His blocks may fall over, but he immediately starts building his tower again. When someone bumps into him, they both fall down laughing and then help each other up — still laughing.

Perhaps we really did learn everything we needed to know about life in kindergarten.

But perhaps there is much we can learn now (or remember) by pondering what it means to be young at heart.

I was listening to a Frank Sinatra CD the other day when his song, “Young at Heart” caught my attention. I’ve heard it sung many times and have even seen his 1954 movie with the same title, co-starring Doris Day.

His song gives some assurances that come with being young at heart such as — fairy tales can come true, life gets more exciting with each passing day, it’s hard to be narrow of mind and you can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams. All of these things are possible, Frank sings, when we’re young at heart.

His song suggests that being carefree and happy isn’t based upon age. I suspect many of us fondly recall — and at least some of us long for — our youthful days of less responsibility and more energy. But according to Frankie, it sounds like an ageless lifestyle is grounded by an eternally youthful outlook. So a youthful outlook isn’t only in spite of one’s age, but also in spite of one’s circumstances and experiences.

American baseball player, Satchel Paige, also renowned for his philosophy on staying young, asked a poignant question. He proposed, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

It could be that too much awareness of our age develops into an excuse. Whether that excuse seems very real or it is imagined or assumed, age becomes the basis for our limitations, inabilities, inactions, boundaries, obstacles and confinements. I wonder how my thoughts as well as my actions, decisions and dreams would change if I dismissed completely any thought of getting old or older.

Now that I’m moving into my fifties, there’s a long list of synonyms for old that I want no part of. Synonyms like decrepit, obsolete, antiquated, outdated, stale, dull, dusty, worn out and most importantly — gray-headed. That will never happen!

Perhaps staying young and maintaining a youthful point of view is possible and for the most part within our control.

Why can the young at heart laugh when their dreams fall part? Because the young at heart are visionaries!

If one dream doesn’t turn out like they dreamed, they envision a new dream — a new possibility, a new path, a new opportunity. As I recall my own childhood memories, I don’t think a day went by without me dreaming about my future. And that future was filled with endless possibilities — many of which are still attainable and many of which I’ve not yet pursued. So what am I waiting for?

Why can a little child lead them, as we read in Isaiah?

Because children know no limitations, boundaries or obstacles! Children only envision or imagine what is possible. Children are flexible, adaptable and buoyant. Children don’t take matters so seriously. Children have the innate ability to lighten up absolutely everything they encounter. Consequently, they are able to lessen the oppressiveness, trouble or severity of any situation and make any needed alterations, changes or modifications to reach their goal.

So my friends, may we all cast away our old age blinders and return to the God-given vision of our youth — where our vision sees only the infinite. Surely this is how we keep our heart young! And this point of view will lead us to our own infinite possibilities!