By Onyeka Onyeibor

I am aware my body is changing. It is not what it was 10 years ago. It is not what it will be 10 years hence. Hair greys. Shines fade. Skin wrinkles. Brows harden. Gait weakens. Strides slow. Time ticks. Doctors call. If looks are editions of life, why can’t I just keep the version that flatters me most?

A dozen products on the shelf tell me I can. They offer illusions of youth and zest that cannot end and promises of charm and grace that cannot dim. They are right, unintentionally right. Youth and charm may last forever. They are wrong, sincerely wrong. Zest and grace are not conjured by dyes and lubes.

It is not uncommon to be sincerely wrong. Haven’t we all been? Mama told you a tooth fairy will take your fallen tooth and bring a new one in the days ahead. You believed. You waited. A new tooth came. But faith in its essence is not a reconstruction of truth. A right answer is not a proof of a right process. Your arithmetic teacher probably told you this.

Age is not a foe to defeat. It is a friend to adore. It is not a plague to cure. It is a pride to wear. Do not darken my greying hairs in a hurry. They are markers of my sojourn. Do not remove the wrinkles in a flash. They are garlands I earned in the tumbles of life. Before you send me a new dye, help me find the old dial of my heart to tune up enthusiasm.

A river of dyes may blur the greys. A pinch of enthusiasm brings the glow. A heap of Himalayan treasures softens the skin. A hint of hope refreshes the soul. Time defines what has been. Enthusiasm projects what is and what can be. The difference between 6 years old and 60 years young is not in 6 and 60 but in the vivacity we bring to life. Laughter is timeless and so are imaginations and dreams.

Enthusiasm is the swag of life. It is the spark in your eyes, the swing in your feet, the surge in your heart, the switch in your head. It is joy in the moment, despite the moment and hope for tomorrow, despite the challenge. It is the smile that shines a mile. It is the twinkle in the dark. Samuel Ullman calls it the lure of wonder, the childlike appetite for what’s next. Nothing destroys man more than man’s propensity to engage life with less enthusiasm than he possibly can. The wears of less exceed the tears from more.

Nothing significant is ever accomplished without enthusiasm. Find it early. Keep it long. It is not the wrinkle that man should fight. It is the twinkle that he must find. Find it in the smile of a little child and in the stare of love. Find it in the heat of adventures and in the respite of the soul. Find it in the shouts of victory and in the loneliness of defeat. Find it in lofty goals and in playful banters. Find it where you are and wherever life takes you.

At 6 or 60 find time to stare and sing:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky

As I count the days to my birthday, it is not the certainty of a different body that I fear. It is the possibility of an indifferent soul that I dread.

Onyeka Onyeibor


August 27, 2021.