A dear friend of mine once commented on a picture of a snowflake print I posted to Facebook:
“LOVE this print. Can I request an art piece featuring these please?”
“You certainly can!" I responded, "Just let me know what you have in mind. Or I'll surprise you”
“Surprise me! Surprise me!”
It was perfect - she was living in a hot desert country where she hadn’t seen snow in a year AND her birthday was coming up. I decided to make her a tote bag with the snowflake print and ship it off to her for a belated birthday or early Christmas present.
And then a year went by.
Has this ever happened to you? You have grand plans but then they get pushed aside as days, then months, then years disappear. Have you let something slide because you figured it was too late to do it?
In my case, I could have filed that idea away as another missed opportunity. Instead, I decided that a year late was better than never and after my friend had moved back home I made the tote bag, filled it with treats, and gave it to her for her birthday. Hey, she wanted a surprise, right? Adding a year just adds to the surprise!
There are plenty of reasons to avoid starting something and sometimes our ideas and dreams get away from us. After awhile we start thinking things like:
- There isn’t enough time
- I wasn’t an early adopter so there’s no point
- I missed that boat!
- No one will care now
- I’m too old
- They’ll think I’m a jerk for leaving it so long
But these are all excuses and reasons for hiding from your joy and magic. The truth is, it's never to late to do something that matters to you.
Here are some more reasons to believe that it’s never too late:
Today is not over yet
Feel like you’ve wasted your day, week, month, year? Alexandra Franzen writes about how 5 words changed her outlook:
“The soggiest, laziest, most forgettable day of my week became the most beautiful, enriching and memorable day of my month.
It turned on a dime — in one split-second decision — with a simple statement of fact:
Today is not over yet.””
Think you’ve waited too long to send that email/card/thank you note? Everyone struggles with this and sometimes we need to collectively give each other a break. The podcast Reply All (one of my faves!) started their own holiday on April 30th called email debt forgiveness day, where you’re free to send any outstanding email as though no time has passed. You can copy and paste their explanation and send your emails without guilt!
For my part, I’m still working on sending a thank you note for a surprise package that I received four months ago. I’m sure she would have loved receiving a response right away, but I don’t doubt that the personalized card will still make her smile.
Late bloomers can be geniuses too
Interested in starting a new career or hobby but feel like you should have started a decade or two ago? Artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon didn’t pick up a paintbrush until she was 32 and she wasn’t making art professionally until she was nearing 40.
“Wanting success to happen right away is so much part of our instant gratification culture – but we live many lives and do many things and there is no reason to panic when you are in your 20s or 30s or 40s, or at any age.” Source
Need another example? Malcolm Gladwell writes about how the painter Cezanne started his career off slowly because he lacked basic drawing skills and didn’t produce his best works until much later in life:
“The Cézannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.” Source
We can live a multitude of lives
Did you start your life on one track and wish you had chosen something else? According to this cartoon, it takes about seven years to master something, which means that, "If you live to be 88, after the age of 11 you have 11 opportunities to be great at something."
Stop worrying about what you've missed and start focusing on what you can do right now. Trust me, it's more than you think.
Age is just a number
Thinking about trying something new or taking a risk but feel like you’re too old? I just found out that my partner’s grandma didn’t learn to drive until she was in her 60s!
Not even death can stop you
42-year old artist Briar Bates was dying of cancer when she choreographed a water ballet titled “Ankle Deep” to be performed in a wading pool by 40 of her friends after her death.
One of her friends said, "When Briar woke up this time last year, she didn’t look in the mirror and think: ‘I only have a year left to live.’ Most of us don’t think that. Well, stop postponing joy. Cut that out. Have a great time. Be involved. Be engaged — appreciate your beautiful, awesome body that isn’t failing you.”
You can see a video of the entire dance here.
I hope you can see that, no matter what it is you want to do, it's not too late. It's never too late.
It’s never too late to create a life that is beautiful and meaningful.
It’s never too late to give your creativity the time and space that it’s been asking for.
It’s never too late to start looking for magic.