Sometimes I look at people, and I think: Somewhere along the line, that person stagnated. Their spirit congealed.

Do you know what I mean?

It doesn’t entirely have to do with age, either. A person can be 18 and seem 38 in their demeanor and manner and way of speaking. And even when they’re 68 they still seem 38 because they just kind of stagnated there.

I’m not speaking of people who are young in spirit, or who “have no age” because they are timeless. That is an entirely different thing. No – this congealing is never good. It’s heavy, cumbersome, and somewhere, deep down, it is insincere.

I notice it a lot with politicians. And public officials.

“There are two kinds of people,” she once decreed to me, emphatically. “One kind, you can just tell by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing … they are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive. You must be constantly on your guard, Justin, against congealing.”

– Gail Goodwin, The Finishing School

I remember when I was in high school and I was supposed to choose a direction for my life. I had no idea what I wanted to be, but I knew one thing: I did not want to be 67 and realize I had never really lived.

It was a completely terrifying thought, as I recall. Thankfully, it did not come to pass. But it could have. It easily could have.