“He was as fresh as is the month of May” (Geoffrey Chaucer).
WHEN WE CULTIVATE THE QUALITY OF FRESHNESS IN OUR CHARACTERS, THE EFFECT OF THAT IS EXTREMELY ENCOURAGING TO OTHERS. As time goes by, particularly with the tiring demands of life as most of us live it today, it’s not easy to keep an outlook of consistent freshness, but it can be done. And those who do it are refreshing to meet and work with.
Consider the opposite of freshness for a moment. Do we really want our lives to be characterized by words like these: staleness, mustiness, weariness, and exhaustion? Would we be content for our contribution to the world to be that, after having dealt with us, other people felt even more worn out than they were to begin with? If not, we need to make it a priority to maintain our freshness.
In one sense, the world around us is very, very old. But in another sense, it’s a fresh world every morning, and it’s a wise thing to let ourselves experience the world as being new rather than old. “For every man the world is as fresh as it was at the first day, and as full of untold novelties for him who has the eyes to see them” (Thomas Henry Huxley). It all depends on which perspective we adopt: will we see only what we’ve seen many times before, or will we see the many fresh things that have not captured our attention until now?
To stay fresh, we have to be growing and making some progress from day to day. Freshness comes from regularly taking the opportunity to make things better, even if the improvements are only small ones. But as we all know, making regular progress requires discipline, determination, and even courage. These things may seem a bit burdensome, but the dividends they pay are, in fact, wonderfully refreshing.
The ultimate key to freshness, however, is love. When we fall in love with people, the good things in the world around us, and life itself, we’ll be continually refreshed by the joys and insights all of these things present to us. But our love must consist of more than words; it must be real. We must be touched by an appreciation — an affectionate appreciation — for the wonders of life. When that’s the real truth about us, our characters will keep their freshness.
“O spirit of love! how quick and fresh art thou . . .” (William Shakespeare).