Chasing the symptoms of eternal youth is a billion pound/dollar/any currency industry and the older we seem to be able to get the more intense this chase seems to become. I am talking about the symptoms of youth like smooth skin and non-sagging bits as no one really seems to seriously quest for the source of true youthfulness. Perhaps because we really don’t know what that is. Just like in modern medicine one tends to treat the symptoms to cure a disease and not necessarily the cause. We want to look young by any means, but acting or even being young is not always considered that desirable. Youth is often linked to immaturity, foolishness and irresponsibility. When you’re a kid, the only thing you want to be is a grown-up as all that responsibility seems a lot more fun. In the English language there is this expression made famous across the world by the legendary Prince to act one’s age, not one’s shoe size. Being from Continental Europe I never understood this back in the days as our shoe sizes (for grown-ups) vary from 34 to 50, but since we’re dealing with Anglo-Saxon language and culture acting one’s shoe size would mean from being a toddler to a moody person in their mid teens. I might not be selling the concept with the toddler-to-moody-teen analogy, but what is actually wrong with child-like behaviour? As grown ups we admire the innocence and straight-forwardness of kids. Images of kids soften our grown-up sharpness and sell a product or cause (ask fabric softener manufacturers or charities). Kids have little idea about adult hang-ups – just give it a few years- and not taking kids from war-torn regions, those slaving away in sweat-shops, or young creatures with other traumas into consideration, being a kid is all about play and being looked after. O yes, and then you also go to school were they aim to teach you to be a useful and respectable citizen when you grow up, but you don’t know that at that time. As grown-ups we often think back on our youth with fondness and nostalgia as the world appeared less complicated and the music was a lot better. While we might feel restricted or even stuck in the web of grown-up responsibility the secret does not lie in modern beauty myths. Forget the acting-your-age adagio, do act your shoe size. What your life as a kid was or was supposed to be about has not fundamentally changed. Life is still about learn and play.
image: Richard Hickman Gallery hicksartgallery.com