|Image via queen of constance|
Have you ever watched as a young man half-heartedly pushes a broom up and down a grocery store aisle? Or witnessed the plodding of a less-than-enthusiastic jogger?
On the opposite, how about the elderly lady lying in a convalescent home, a lively spark behind those tired eyes just appealing to you to make conversation with her and explore the hidden treasures within? Or the middle-aged man in a wheel-chair that has a contented smile and a thoughtful gaze as you pass him by. What about that young girl, though she is confined to her bed, her eyes dance with merriment and good nature?
Though the first two are physically active, their spirits are lifeless. Their energy is - let’s simply say- not attractive. The remaining three, though they are immobile, possess the most attractive energy.
This type of energy would best be described as vitality.
If we change our first sentence and enter the grocery store again and find that same young man wielding the broom with a forceful energy and ambition for the job, we are apt to think of him a bit kindlier and perhaps even move out of his way as he bears down on us. Animation of spirit is the difference between apathy and vitality.
From the World English Dictionary we have an excellent description--
1. Physical or mental vigour, energy, etc
2. The power or ability to continue in existence, live, or grow: the vitality of a movement
3. A less common name for vital force
From the Medical Dictionary:
pl -ties ; 1 : the peculiarity distinguishing the living from the nonliving 2 : capacity to live and develop also : physical or mental vigor especially when highly developed
And a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald on the subject:
“Of all natural forces, vitality is the incommunicable one.... Vitality never "takes." You have it or you haven't it, like health or brown eyes or a baritone voice.”
The truth of the matter is that energy does not necessarily mean activity of the physical kind. The most beautiful type of energy can be found in those who cannot be physically active or athletic. The possession of inner energy i.e. - vitality, is a beautifying adornment that cannot be feigned… or masked. Of course this type of energy can be paired with its physical counterpart and be just as beautiful, but the fact remains that even when alone it shines just as brightly. “Energy” can be found in the light step of a young lady or the sparkling eyes of an elderly woman.
“Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.” 1 Peter 3:4
Having read certain novels written in the 19th century and finding female characters with an “elastic” step and assured manner of speech being surrounded by male suitors, I naturally gave this much thought. What was it that really attracted them? Was it the fact that this girl could enjoy a Christmas party until the morning hours and also be up with the sun just as cheerfully and refreshed as if she had had a full night’s slumber? Was it her quick step as she walked the city streets or her swift retort as she bantered in the parlour? Maybe it was the fire behind her eyes as she defended one of the gentlemen’s honors. Or the merriment and sparkle hidden there as she played Pass the Slipper.
Perhaps it was all of those things combined. Even so, if she had done any one of those things without animation of spirit, her suitors –most likely first attracted to a pretty face- would have dispersed over time.
Vitality truly does distinguish the living from the non-living even outside of the medical sense of the word. Nearly every human being has good times in which they laugh and joke, showing signs of such energy, and everyone has hard times in which it seems to have completely vanished. I believe the true indication of “unfading beauty” in a person is manifested in the manner that they approach life.
If I had to describe this type of individual in only one word I would say passionate. Not that they are always exuberant and energized but because they are “alive” inside. They don’t need external motivation in order to excel. They don’t need a pat on the back in order to feel good about themselves. They have an eagerness and ambition for life that goes beyond the next social gathering or new car. It’s a contentment; a quiet confidence.
Once we understand the difference between those who possess such a spirit and those who don’t, the detection of such a person is unmistakable. They live in the moment. They share the moment. They know what really matters in this life and live accordingly.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16