There’s this quote by George Eliot:
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
It’s a favorite of mine, but almost every time I recite it to someone, they scoff. Maybe that reaction is due to the way we view time. Have we made it work for us or do we see it passing uncontrollably with few opportunities to harness it in our favor?
Or maybe the quote reminds us of the moment we caught a glimpse of our desired outcome, but turned away, whether on purpose, frightened by the enormity and power of it, or because we were distracted by a shiny something, a too-good-to-be-true promise, a call to duty.
Or maybe we simply found an easier way, a safe and comfortable way. A way that didn’t feel like it’d swallow us whole.
For me, the quote implies a lot. Like, there’s unknown magic along the road to the destination. Like, I have the map, I routed my path, and I know where I want to end up, but the very real, feet pounding out the trail journey is long and will change me. To the Might’ve Been Me. The Supposed To Be Me.
For me, the quote also almost-demands I start again, over and over and over if need be, to find that enormous and powerful idea of who I could be—each day, every day, as long as I live—and when I catch sight of that person, advance toward her. Determined, insistent, unwavering.
Each of its implications and demands presents an important challenge for Creatives confronting aging for the first time. Go off map? Leave the plotted route? That was fine back then, but now I’m too old to take risks. I’m too wise to chase magic. Following whims? I could bounce back when I was younger, but now it’s irresponsible. And I don’t have time. I mean, I really don’t have time. One car needs new tires. One needs a tune-up. The bathrooms need to be cleaned. And there are the three appointments today and then tomorrow that guy is here to do that thing and Thursday I’m helping so-and-so with such-and-such and, well, the calendar is jam-packed. And the thing I need is not Might’ve Been Me, but Should Be Me, who has a steady, stable job that provides security.
Then I turn the corner. Click on a link. Meet someone new. Have an idea. Write or make something great.
I think, Maybe writing and art don’t have to be tossed aside as pastimes after all.
I think, Six more months. I’ll give it six more months.
I think, I’ll micro-focus with tunnel vision dedication. Because…
It’s never too late to be what I might’ve been.