Monday, February 9, 2009

About being 'youthful'

Early last month, the weather here in Georgia was as my mom would put it "mad cold" (yeah, she'd put it that way). It was pretty brisk for Georgia standards. Even in the dead of winter, it’s not unusual to enjoy temperatures in the mid 60’s. But for a strange string of days, the thermometer bobbed anywhere from 30 degrees to as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. So naturally, most comers and goers sensibly donned multiple layers of warm clothing to shield themselves from the frigged winter air.

Most, mind you, but not all.

One frosty Friday evening during this seemingly nation-wide cold spell, my father, a New York City resident, and I were talking about how we tend to notice people wearing shorts in the dead of winter. For most my life I looked upon such acts as—how should I put it—dumb. I saw it as a senseless attempt to try and force the season to a quicker conclusion all the while losing feeling in their frostbitten legs with each passing yard. I think I even wrote a poem about it.

I had issues, but I’m better now.

We talked about how each of us began to see shorts in the winter as a more youthful decision than an irrational one. Still, it was a choice we admired from afar with neither of us being brave enough to try it. My father went on to share a recent observation of a mature man exhibiting this youthful behavior and how it instantly inspired him. With me as his witness, he made a personal declaration saying "I'm going to do that one day." Laughingly, my father added "and it might be tomorrow."

Unfortunately, that Saturday in New York meant snow, and lots of it. So my father thought better of the idea. Declaration withstanding, he was disappointed.

That Sunday morning, I was preparing for church and found myself staring frustratingly at my limited wardrobe...again. I didn't know what to wear and felt like I didn't really have much to choose from besides. Suddenly, a thought of Friday’s conversation with my father sprang to mind. In the same instant, I noticed the one pair of summer shorts still hanging amongst the winter cloths and all at once it hit me—I'LL DO IT!

I figured one of us had to try the shorts idea at some point. So before my brain could catch up with my heart, I grabbed the shorts, thought through an outfit and readied myself for an experience. To my surprise, my wife wasn’t opposed to the idea. In fact, she was supportive. She was probably just a curious as my father and I had become about what people think and feel when putting themselves in a summer state of mind. And so, off to Church.

I honestly didn’t notice the cold right off. We were running around getting kids and things in the car so that we weren’t late for service. Maybe I was just too distracted to feel anything. It wasn’t actually until after Church when I really noticed the cold. But I was so deep into a liberating mindset that I truly wasn’t bothered by the 36 degree cold. In a sort of euphoric way, I felt at one with the world. Can’t really explain it, but somehow I did.

I sent a couple photos of my experience to my father, mother, sister and brother after we got home that afternoon. My father’s motivation level received quite a boost at the news and he was absolutely amped to make good on his declaration the following weekend come what may. And he did. Exactly one week later, he threw on his shorts, went out to the front yard of his Saint Albans home and shoveled the snow in 32 degree weather. The man.

In this, I learned a few things about being youthful; it is a state of mind not a fact of age; it is liberating in its defiance of logic; and it is certainly, contagiously, inspiring.

Thanks for the inspiration, Dad.

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