It’s NOT too Late!   For What?

It’s NOT too Late! For What?

(A Medi Post)

Often, I feel overwhelmed with life’s chores. Granted, I may have a mild, but everlasting personality flaw for ‘over-commitment,’ which expands that chore list. My mind can be quiet for sure. Tranquil. Laid-back. Yet more often it goes a mile a minute. Functionally, I can’t keep up. Too many days I crave just another 5 (okay, maybe 10) more wakeful hours before I sleep. I still want to do this or that, and haven’t totally internalized that I can’t do it all.

Partially, my problem is everything seems interesting. I look around my life at what I am doing, and I am absorbed by much of it. I look forward to particular tasks on my to-do list. Further, I look at someone else’s life and enchantedly think “ooooh, I like THAT….”, or “I should do THAT” or “I want THAT…” – until the next “THAT” comes along – a new idea to covet.

Those thoughts are more frequent than I would generally admit. Understandably, sometimes during these moments when my desires are ‘all over the map,’ I start questioning, ‘is what I am doing making me happy?’ Pausing just to re-examine life. Often, that stimulates the reminder not to fall into the Happiness Trap. In whatever way it might be defined, ‘happiness’ may not be the delineation of fulfillment or the sole reason for living. This was on my mind once again when…….(ding); one of those ubiquitous chain emails arrived. It wasn’t a political joke, a cute animal trick or a plea for action. Instead it was a quotation almost 200 years old.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference that you have lived,
and lived well.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I believe I am honorable, and always strive toward empathy and compassion. But what about usefulness and making a difference. It certainly depends on the definition, doesn’t it? What instantly popped into my brain at that point of self-reflection was twofold: only you can define “usefulness” for yourself, and it’s not too late. Despite our age, our background, our skills, our personalities and tendencies, or our definition of usefulness, we can all still make a difference – some difference.

There are myriad examples, but we’re all so unique I can’t imagine suggesting what would provide a feeling of accomplishment or usefulness for someone else. The list of opportunities and viewpoints would be endless. Frankly, I’ll be lucky to discover that ‘special something’ for myself that convinces me I am doing my best to make a positive difference.

…And that leads me to my respectful departure from the eminent Mr. Emerson. I would like to add one small point to his thoughtful musings about living well. I think it may be sufficient if we are simply ‘trying.’

Perhaps you, my friendly reader, are reasonable in your interpretation of “make some difference.” But for those of us who may be a bit more skeptical of our own contributions in the world, let’s agree that just giving it a try means we too are living well.

I hear some people say “don’t try – just do it.” Okay – Yes – Good. But that’s not always reasonable – or even possible. Some of the things we endeavor to fully accomplish may not be achievable – simply due to timing, skills, and opportunities or they are just too outsized for a single lifetime.

In terms of life purpose and usefulness, I think ‘trying’ deserves more elevated status. Plus if we don’t demand perfection from what we ‘try’ (whether it is large, medium or tiny), more choices are open to us. No matter what we choose then, it’s not too late. For exactly “what” I can’t answer. Yet, for sure, ‘trying‘ to make a difference somehow – anywhere – to some degree – does provide purpose to our lives, I would think.

As part of our Aging with Pizzazz journey, it’s certainly not too late for any of us to enjoy the rewards of our own usefulness.

Pic credit: Courtesy of Pixabay: hourglass 620397-1280 by ‘Nile’

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4 thoughts on “It’s NOT too Late! For What?

  1. Usefulness. I had more than my fair share of being useful… I brought up a family with my wife, I was 32 years self employed, one of the founders of the Boys & Girls Club in our valley, volunteer in the local government, giving many people jobs, major donor to the local Synagogue, and so much more. And yet, 1 1/2 years ago I also had an open heart surgery. I am now 66 years old and still very active. Going to OLLI to learn more, going dancing and singing – all activities that are foremost just for my pleasure. I had enough having “usefulness to other’s” being my life purpose and the best of all, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Is in your opinion something wrong with my attitude? I don’t think so.

    • I do NOT disagree. I would point out that many of the places where you were useful in the ‘past’ probably live on currently and may into the future as well. Further, I think you may be serving another purpose currently – showing others when and how to enjoy their lives! That too must count for a life well lived. You also demonstrate that ALL of our definitions of usefulness will be different and unique.
      Thanks for a GREAT comment – thinking in a different way.

  2. Again Barbara, you have a super duper way with concepts and the words to make the discussion come alive. You have been a shining star of one of the most purposefully lived lives of anyone that I know.

    • SUCH kind words – did my mother pay you to say that? Ok, so my mom has passed away, but I still appreciate your words. thanks for the up-life. drb

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