Words most of us live by: “Better late than never.” Words that might not seem as relevant with the passage of time, “Better late than never.”
Recently, I’ve begun to notice that this saying seemed to be approaching its expiration date when justifying the undertaking of an ambitious or long term project. One needs a fairly long personal timeline to be able to casually say, “later.”
I became acutely aware of this newish attitude I’d unconsciously adopted, while in deep conversation with a friend. He straightforwardly asked me to consider what my ideal life would look like in ten years. At first, I thought he must be kidding.
My immediate smartass response was, “I’d be alive!”
My friend demanded more of me. “Fill that out,” he kindly and firmly suggested. Something told me it was in my best interest to play by his rules.
At first, my mind was a blank, but then I began to let my mind roam freely. Ok, if I can let go of the fact that I might not be around in ten years, then what? What would I be doing? Where would I be living?
As we got more deeply into filling out that void, a long hidden dream began to rise to the surface. My dream, if I permitted myself to imagine a long term future, would be to live part time in the country I have returned to repeatedly since the early 1980’s: JAPAN. I blurted out my answer, “I’d love to live part of the year in Japan.”
That declarative was followed immediately by the question, “Does that (idea) sound crazy?”
“No,” said my friend, who happens to live in Japan. He looked remarkably unsurprised by my revelation.. Could it have been he was expecting this? Even encouraging it?
To my surprise and delight, I was flooded with joy and excitement. I quickly warmed to my bold idea. Maybe it wasn’t crazy, after all! So as not to lose my newfound courage, I shared it with my husband within a few hours. To my amazement, no straitjacket came out from under the bed. He didn’t say NO! He didn’t even roll his eyes. He didn’t say yes either, but I knew immediately I had a chance.
And so began my new adventure.
“Too-lateness, I realized, has nothing to do with age. Too-lateness is potentially every moment. Or not, depending on the person and the moment. Perhaps there even comes a time when it’s no longer too late for anything. Perhaps, even, most times are too early for most things, and most of life has to go by before it’s time for almost anything and too late for almost nothing. Nothing to lose, the present moment to gain, the integration with long-delayed Now.”
― Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary