One popular saying that often grinds my gears is: “It’s never too late.” The fact is, generalizations are often misleading and inaccurate. There are expiration dates regarding many activities and occupations that people yearn to undertake. For example, one of my childhood dreams was to become an astronaut. My body has sinced aged and a few chronic medical conditions have developed. These realities are barriers to maintaining an astronaut training regime. The chances of me becoming a crew member of the International Space Station are practically nil.
“Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late.”–Mark Twain
I understand that well-meaning advice givers use the never too late phrase as encouragement. They likely have friendly, morale-boosting intent at the heart of their use of the phrase. However, I maintain that it is not always wise to fall back on seemingly pithy statements and self-help shibboleths. Some people take too much comfort in using “it’s never too late”. It implies that we have a lot of “wiggle room” and justifies procrastination. In such instances, “it’s never too late” is the cruel seed for regrets suffered by patients who live their sunset years in nursing homes. Therefore, it behooves us to qualify our never too late claims.
“I have now taken a serious task upon myself and I fear a greater one that is in the power of any man to perform in the given time-but it is too late to go back.”–inventor of the cotton gin, Eli Whitney
There are instances when we’ve gotten ourselves into situations when circumstances cause us to get in over our heads. Going past the point of no return in a journey or an obligation quickly disproves the “it’s never too late” belief. At such times, the best one can do is to accept the consequences and minimize one’s losses. On the other hand, there are particular instances when the never too late phrase is helpful. We know that it’s never too late to give up our prejudices and explore a new life philosophy.
Perhaps a better pithy phrase to use is, “Do it before it’s too late.” This minimizes the temptation to procrastinate. The phrase is also more honest, and admits the reality that oftentimes there is an expiration date for many desires and hoped for goals. When we honestly realize that some things are beyond our control and that it’s sometimes too late to accomplish certain goals; that is when we can decide to cultivate the skill to age gracefully. After a certain age, it is wise to hone this very important talent.
By all means, if you have a dream to manifest and a goal to accomplish, avoid regrets and do it before it’s too late.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes writer, Agatha Christie. “One doesn’t recognize the really important moments in one’s life until it’s too late.”