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“Realize your youth while you have it”… the sound of my own voice startled me, but the woods echoed back the phrase approvingly, so I took courage. “Don’t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, or giving your life away to the ignorant and the common. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals of our age.” … “Sickly aims, sickly aims,” the crickets chirruped after me. “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing. There is such a little time that your youth will last — such a little time. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty” — I was already a year past twenty — “becomes sluggish. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!” I had youth, which is both transitory and fugitive, now. I had it completely and abundantly. Yet... what was I going to do with it? Certainly not squander its gold on the commonplace quest for riches and respectability – I wanted freedom. I wanted the freedom to indulge in whatever caprice struck my fancy. I wanted freedom to search the farthermost corners of the earth for the beautiful, the joyous, and the romantic.Reading this at the age of 17 set me on a course of adventure. I read it about once a month.
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