Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Might Have Been

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

It is never too late. I can’t recall how many times I heard that phrase growing up. I believe it must have been my parents’ favorite thing to say, because it seemed to follow every sentence they uttered each time my sister and I worried about something.

Indeed, no matter how many mistakes one has made, or how many times things have gone wrong, or opportunities have missed their chance to manifest, luck, circumstances and attitudes can always take a sudden turn.

I once read of a lady who had always wanted to go to college, but never had the means when she was young. Being the oldest of eight children, she was, at first, too busy helping her mother raise her younger siblings; after that she married and started a family of her own.

When her husband died she was nearly seventy-five years of age, and her children had all grown and moved out. It was time for her to decide what she was going to do with the years she had left – for once in her life she had no one to be responsible for but herself. If she looked back to the days of her youth, her only regret was to not have received a college education. So she decided to make up for that.

She enrolled at the local university - although family and friends tried to discourage her plans - and for the next four years she diligently took all the credit courses she needed to graduate in business management. By the time she graduated she was seventy-nine, but she proudly posed for photos on her big day.

She was never able to put her skills to use, since she was too old for employment and died just a few weeks short of her eightieth birthday, but for almost a whole year she lived knowing she had crowned her dream of being a college graduate.

Some of our ambitions may be more modest than those of the lady who graduated, but if they are important to us they are worth pursuing. We may not achieve the full extent of our dreams, but can be creative as we try to get close to the original idea.

I’ve always believed that where there is a will there’s a way, and as long as our plans do not harm anyone on the path to being fulfilled, we shouldn’t hold back or tell ourselves it is too late. And maybe what we might have been can still become who we are.

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