I have turned back the clock. Sort of.
This turning back the hands of time hasn’t removed the wrinkles that have settled in around my eyes. Nor has it given me the energy and flair that I had a decade ago. But I do feel like I have returned to my younger years and that I’m making up for some lost experiences of my youth.
A few weeks ago, I made a Dream Big list. One of the items on the list was to read at least two must-read literature classics that I wish I had read in high school. I often lament the fact that I did not read more literary classics during my school days. But without book report requirements, daily class discussions, and report cards to motivate me, the motivation to catch up was lacking and the opportunity seemed to be lost.
One book that passed by me for one reason or another was “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. It seems like every person with more than an 8th grade education has read this literary classic. Except me. Appalling and embarrassing, I know, particularly given my legal background and interest in the law. For years, I have wanted to read this book, but other priorities always stood in the way. Until a few weeks ago, that is, when I finally checked it out from our local library and cracked open the old book’s aged spine.
Almost instantly, I fell in love with overall-wearing Scout and her older brother Jem. I developed a profound respect for Atticus and his calm demeanor. And, despite the fact that I wasn’t surprised, I was sickened and angered by the racism, prejudice, and discrimination that was so pervasive of the time.
After reading the book – something that should have been done years ago – part of me is disappointed that I hadn’t read the book sooner and have deprived myself of the book’s wisdom for all these years. But another part of me thinks that if I had read the book as an adolescent like most people do, much of the emotions and messages of the book would have been lost on my angst-filled, headstrong teenage mind. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, I suppose. All that matters is that I have now read it and I am changed, in some small way, because of that experience.
Literature is not my only cultural void. Despite being a child of the 80s, there are a number of iconic movies that I have never seen. For instance, I had never seen the childhood classic E.T. Sure, I had seen the images of the boy riding his bike through the air with his new friend in the front basket. I had heard the slogan, “E.T. phone home” countless times. And I knew that the lovable creature’s finger could light up and make magic happen. But I didn’t know the details of the movie and I hadn’t seen the relationship between Elliott and E.T. play out in its entirety on screen.
Inspired by my successful foray into 8thgrade English class with “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I decided to (finally!) watch E.T. And after recruiting my husband to snuggle up and watch it with me a few nights ago, I can now check that item off my cultural deficit list. Having finally seen the movie as an adult and not as a child like most people my age, I can affirmatively say that it was cute, but not nearly as impactful as I had expected it to be. Perhaps I had inflated expectations given the 30 year delay in viewing the iconic movie, but I did not laugh out loud, nor did I shed any tears like I thought I would. Nonetheless, I am happy to have caught up to my peers just a little bit with respect to the pop culture of my youth.
Both of these experiences reinforced that it is never too late to experience something that you think might have passed you by. It’s never too late to learn to ride a bike, to learn to swim (like my good friend Lori recently did), to read a forgotten book, or discover a new hobby. It’s never too late to begin a meditation practice, take up tae kwon do, visit a new church, or learn to play the piano. It’s never too late to let go of a grudge, to apologize, or to call an old friend from the past.
Maybe the timing isn’t perfect. Maybe you feel like the chance passed you by. Maybe the motivation is lacking. But it’s never too late.
Are there any opportunities that you think passed you by? Are there any activities you want to learn? Books you want to read? Movies you want to see? Hobbies you want to discover? Relationships you want to mend?