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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.”

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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.”  plum blossom temple shortcake buddha w: blossoms

I had never dared to say that out loud before, thinking I’d be brutally thrown to the ground, pinned, wrapped in a strait jacket and quickly carted off.woman in straijacket

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 HobanTurtle Diary

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Nancy Felson says:

    Dianne, I’d love it if you could talk me through such a conversation; not sure how I would “Fill that out!”
    Maybe NYC, where I am now.
    Loved your posting!

  • Dolores Davies says:

    It’s always been interesting to me the way we perceive time and how much or little we have. It’s a cultural artifact, really, and we are often restricted by this perception. The reality is that no one knows how much time they have on this earth, regardless of their age. We don’t own the future. All we own is now. Act now, make plans for the future, but know that the universe may or may not interrupt them. I think it’s fabulous that you are living in Kyoto. It’s my favorite city as well, so I look forward to following your journey.

  • Gail Rieke says:

    How truly exciting!
    …and I wonder if I know that voice of encouragement…
    I look forward to vicariousing with your eyes and ears and heart to guide me.

  • Judi Wallner says:

    Thanks Dianne for the very relevant reminder. Yes to part time in Japan!

  • Ann Starck says:

    If I’d read first, I’d have known how you are coming to live in Kyoto. Isn’t it amazing how long it takes to just be immediate with dreams and desires and to realize its’ fine to be doing what we want.? I thought you’d been doing this for years. Ann

    • devapnek says:

      Dearest Ann, We’ve been traveling here for years, but generally once a year. One of my daughters asked, are you ever coming home? I think if I didn’t have familial obligations, I’d forget the commute across the Pacific and just stay put!

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