It’s never too late
Most of us are currently in the grip of the hardest phase of confinement since it began, unable to replace the toaster that just broke down, to buy a good book, a new pair of socks or even a gift card.
At the grocery store, we wait in line, masks on and hands disinfected, to buy some celery, pork chops and yogurt.
It’s overwhelming at times, but when I feel down I often reach for my notebook of famous sayings. This morning, when I opened it, I found myself reading these wonderful words by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948):
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as in being able to remake ourselves.”
This phrase echoing in my mind, I feel my courage returning. I understand that I am not in the world’s driver’s seat, but that I can change my situation; I can remake myself, as Gandhi said. Instead of closing myself off in a sad reality that condemns me to an equally pitiful cycle of emotions. I can create new scenarios, imagine new endings. I can act by planning small projects that will keep me busier. I can think of new things to make my life more rewarding. In other words:
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE to change things for the better.
That means it’s never too late to say “I LOVE YOU” more often. Instead of moping about, I should show more affection. I should plant “I LOVE YOU’s” all around me. Imagine being the gardener in a flower-strewn paradise. Sharing our feelings is probably the most difficult thing for tough old hearts still beating. Be careful though! (I heed my own words.) Because when words leave our mouths, the intentions they carry begin to materialize; affection becomes a seed and hostility a battle.
It’s never too late to LISTEN to someone. Never too late to remain silent and simply listen to my kids who are wiser and more thoughtful. Never too late to listen to my grandkids who are younger and more resilient. Never too late to reach out to an old friend, a daughter-in-law or a long-time neighbour. Listening attentively to someone is like greeting them with your arms wide open. It is to welcome their words, their experiences and maybe even a better point of view than your own on this or that matter. Listening is a genuine act of caring that should be a part of everyone’s daily practice. Starting with me.
It’s never too late to FORGIVE someone who caused us pain. Resentment is a heavy burden to carry. Forgiveness stops you from futilely reliving the hurt, frees your thoughts and lightens the heart. Let’s keep this in mind as we cross this harsh desert that has provided us with a rare chance for reflection. Forgiving may help us turn the page and welcome our new life with even more joy. Maybe one evening before falling asleep, instead of reading novels or dwelling on past hurts I should write a few words to my ex-husband, who was too good-looking to be tied to just one woman. I should also write to his poor mom, who wanted to marry her Adonis to a princess from a thousand and one nights. Softening my heart would help me appreciate the outstanding culinary talent of my ill-humoured daughters-in-law. Forgiveness would certainly help me dissolve the resentment that still clouds my later years even now.
It’s never too late to LET GO. Never too late to rid ourselves of the weight of our hurts. We all age. How will we ever (myself included) manage to ascend to Paradise carrying so much baggage? With so many layers of frustration, so many regrets, so many unfulfilled desires and so many broken dreams? We have little to do these days, so why not make the most of this time and abandon our woes we vainly hold on to? Here’s a strategy that works: Find a comfortable place to sit and make a list of all your hurts. Go outside. That’s right. Go barefoot in the snow if you have to, and burn your list. I’ve done this more than once, often in winter. Extinguished, its dark cinders scar the pristine white snow. Just like our poor hearts.
It’s never too late to GROW SOMETHING. Plant a seed, place a leek stalk in a glass of water, an ivy cutting in a cup. Pamper your fine herbs. Trust me, I find there is nothing more therapeutic than taking care of this nascent life growing on my kitchen counter. If you wish, do as I do and plant a tree in your head. A lilac perhaps, because when it’s in season, it envelops you with an exquisite smell. Give it some serious thought. You’ll have a new project to keep you busy and something to talk to during the winter, until the time comes to transplant your young charges outside in the ground.
“Where do you prefer to grow, my dear? On the grass in front of the house? Or behind, next to your dusty pink sister?”
It’s never too late to WRITE A LOVE LETTER to someone. To your lover, a parent, a partner or a stranger that you’d like to call your sweetheart. I am dying to have a fella I can write tender words to each day. Allowing your heart to speak is as delicious as sleeping on a fur blanket. And we certainly need some warmth these days. We need to practice saying words of love out loud. Even if we are just pretending. The Universe’s wisdom has a very long memory. It’s able to send us as many words of love as we have offered, so maybe I should be more brave of heart and practice more. And what if writing words of love had the power of planting the right seeds to conjure a beloved for real?
It’s never too late to BECOME THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE. It’s never too late to change careers, to make a new start. Life is short, shouldn’t we use the time we have to do what brings us enjoyment? The planet is fighting a difficult enemy, forcing us to slow down. Let’s take advantage of this moment to reflect on the values that are important to us, on the landscapes that comfort us and on big career-changing decisions. It might be highly instructive to revisit our first passions, to reflect on who we could have been and who we dream of becoming.
As for me, I’m certain it’s not too late to write and become a better storyteller. Never too late to welcome all those new ideas knocking at the door. Never too late to publish a new book. It’s never too late to question our past and recognize our true talents. And above all, above everything else, IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO HONOUR OUR DESIRES.
And that is the grace that I wish so very, very much for you.
Pssst: “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation,” Aristotle, Greek philosopher, disciple of Plato and teacher to Alexander the Great.