I love the story about a very mature gentleman whom someone asked, "What is your age, Mr. So-and-So?" His reply: "Why, that isn't really any of my business!"
My husband also is adamant about not divulging his age to others. "I don't record my age" is his standard response to the question.
If it's true that we are what we think, then I'm still stuck at 12 years old in many ways. The literature I enjoy reading is written for kids, and since I love kids, I think being like one is more fun than being a grown-up. Although I can drive to the movies and I have more spending money than most of the kids I know, basically, I don't see much of a difference. Trying to behave responsibly and set a good example is as grown-up as I get.
But if you crunch the numbers, I am definitely not 12 anymore. There are days my body argues certain facts and figures to get me to admit the discouraging news that I'm not getting any younger. But I find it it more useful to focus on what I can do, here and now, to claim youth as well as maturity.
I have heard age described as an accumulation of areas of our life that have gone unchallenged, unchanged. These become larger and overwhelming if left that way. One example might be that avoiding exercise as a normal part of one's daily routine can be harder to reverse the longer we put off doing it.
Another example: If you are used to criticizing others and you don't attempt to stop thinking critical thoughts, eventually the polite veneer wears thin and you say what you think, causing others to see you as crabby. On the other hand, what about those people who have patiently worked to find the good in every situation? Eventually, they will find themselves reciprocally benefited when others treat them with patience.
Mary Baker Eddy is the founder of this international newspaper, which she established at a mature age, not an age when most people would begin such an ambitious project. She wrote, "Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom. Immortal Mind feeds the body with supernal freshness and fairness, supplying it with beautiful images of thought and destroying the woes of sense which each day brings to a nearer tomb" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 248).
It's our obligation to ourselves to confront and conquer unlovely characteristics and negative lifestyle habits before they control our thoughts and actions. The true fountain of youth is the willingness to change, grow, and enjoy our sweeter spontaneous selfhood.
God did not create us to bear greater and greater burdens, I believe. Rather, we can see ourselves as God's reflection and respond with joy to each demand, to relinquish any quality of our behavior that is not Godlike.
We don't need to wait to cast off false garments of unlovely behavior. Conquering them, not allowing them to accumulate, is something that can be done every day, every minute. Mary Baker Eddy also wrote, "Man's enslavement to the most relentless masters - passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge - is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe" (pg. 407).
You may not feel as close to 12 years old as I do, which may be a very good thing. But we can each refuse to accumulate or become accustomed to behavior that is often associated with getting older.
which ye have both learned,
and received, and heard,
and seen in me, do:
and the God of peace
shall be with you.