“And it was too late. No one wants to believe something is too late, but it is always becoming too late, and then it is.”—–Elizabeth Strout The Burgess Boys.
If you read the quote above and felt its truth, look again.
The quote above presents an illusion of our mind. When I first read it in Elizabeth Strout’s novel last summer, the hard truth in the quote reflected the characters’ situation and seemed like a stark reality. But, as revealed in the novel, so goes our lives.
It’s not too late.
When we were young, too late mind wasn’t hard set. The future was always before us. We spend our lives looking ahead, and then we hit a certain point where we start looking back, and the beginning of the too late mind arrives. As choices and commitments pile up, habits become entrenched, and our minds turn more and more rigid. The harder the reality is set, the more too late mindset covers today’s opportunity.
But maybe the idea is largely in our minds. Dr. Ellen Langer does research on aging and the mind. She researches how our mindset affects our reality, not just our mental health, but our physical health. In one example, she remarked that when someone hurts an ankle at 25, they expect to get better, but at 45, many begin to think it will never get better and other problems are sure to follow. Too late for recovery, too late to have good health, too late to feel whole. We start to create our identity around too late, ignoring all the possibilities now.
In the last year, I have two close friends who changed their lives completely. Watching this happen was totally inspiring, particularly because of the battle they waged on this too late mindset.
Here is what I admired about my friends and their transformation:
- They are committed. This is who they want to be and how they want to live. The result of the action is less important to them than choosing the process every day.
- They are brave enough to share their journey. This is so courageous, because our too late mind loves to remind us of all the times we tried and failed before. To share belief in new possibility is courageous.
- They accept each day as a new day. Perfection was not the goal. Embracing never too late, means surrendering to doing their best. Each woman has a full life that they maintained in the midst of change, and every day wasn’t ideal.
- They enjoy themselves. Instead of misery, they embraced the challenges and enjoyed bringing new information, new habits and new feelings into their lives.
- They inspire and don’t judge others. This is something remarkable about both women. Despite their amazing life transformations and their openness to sharing information and experiences, they are clear that these choices are best for them, and are not out to convert others. They embody the possibility of living now.
The famous yogi, BKS Iyengar, reflected that making change is like moving a grain of sand from one side of the lake to the other. At first is seems impossible, but grain by grain you transform your habits, and before you know it, the beach has been built on the other side, and the new habit is strong. You move yourself from too late, to never too late, knowing that today there is just one grain of sand to move. The possibility is always there. Catch your mind the next time it tries to convince you otherwise.
It is never too late to be what you might have been.