Friday, July 15, 2011
It's Never Too Late
I was reading CS Lewis' Mere Christianity last night, and in the chapter I was reading, there was a section where he talked about going back. He was commenting how sometimes, to go forward, we have to go backwards. Like when we are lost, and going backwards a ways is the best way to make progress. In our progress obsessed world, we often don't see this. We think that progress, growth, the path to ________________ (fill in your own blank) is always full steam ahead forward. But what if that forward progress is taking you to the wrong place?
It's been my experience that more people feel they have lost their way, lost something essential, and want to find their way back to that earlier path. They were more creative, or peaceful, or productive or had better relationships, or.... __________________ (yes, fill in your own blank again.). Why then would we, in coaching or counseling or in self examination, want to keep going forward? Why would we not want to go back to where we strayed off the path, and then look at picking a different path?
I've been there. At times in my life I lost my spiritual way. At other times, I lost my creative way. And at other times, I lost my relational way. It's easier than most people realize to move off a track that is important to us. Life tends to chip those important things away so slowly we don't even realize it sometimes. And then, somewhere down the road, we realize.... we've lost something.
My favorite book on creative recovery is Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way." In it an older man said it was too late to take up the violin. She asked him what he would be if he started - a 70 year old man who was a beginner on the violin. And if he didn't start - he'd be a seventy year old man who never played the violin, and regretted it. I have been writing poetry sporadically for 30 years. A few weeks ago my son was up here in Vermont and we went to the Bennington Museum, where we saw a Grandma Moses exhibition. She was ancient when she began painting, way past "retirement" age. But managed to paint thousands of paintings. When I was at Hollins getting a creative writing masters, I wrote it constantly. But I feel away from it, and did not take it up regularly again until my divorce a few years ago. I didn't publish my first book of poems until I was 55. And trust me, you can do the same, whether it's a book, painting, music.... whatever it is you want to accomplish.
I have a metal bookmark that is on my desk, with a quote from George Eliot: It is never too late to become what you might have been."
Amen and Amen.
PS - the picture was taken in Times Square in New York City.