I am late. Late to life. Or some parts of it, at least.
I’m late, but not too late.
You are late. Your family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances are also likely late.
We are all late. Late to something. But not too late.
Here are just a few things I am late for:
>> learning how to love in a way that is without moats and walls and judgment.
>> learning how to let go of anger and resentment so that I can stop feeling as if I’m chained to a boulder, unable to progress forward.
>> knowing how to be a good partner, not looking for perfection or someone to fulfill me, but rather loving with all the flaws and uncertainties while also knowing how to fulfill myself.
>> knowing how to be a good parent and not putting my own missed opportunities, mistakes, and regrets on the shoulders of my sons and simply allowing them the freedom to fully come alive under the gaze of love and admiration.
>> learning how to be a good friend and giving myself permission to be vulnerable and real instead of hiding or disguising pieces of myself because I’ve already decided they won’t like me.
And there’s more…so much more. I am late to learning how to forgive myself, how to take care of my body and mind, how to heal, how to speak, and how to listen. I can go on.
But, while I’m late —I’m not too late.
Most of us are late for something, or many somethings. Many of us have spent portions of our lives wishing we had done something differently, said different words, used a softer tone, been a better friend, loved without holding back, let go of anger sooner, lived more fully.
We may be late, but we aren’t too late.
We aren’t too late to realize. We aren’t too late to learn.
We aren’t too late to know we don’t always have to be right; to see and hear and love our people exactly as they are; to love ourselves exactly as we are; to make deeper connections, build stronger relationships, have meaningful conversations, listen more than talk, be vulnerable, and take risks, and give ourselves and others grace.
I’ve lost so many potentially amazing relationships because I’m late to knowing how to nurture and grow with myself and others and to let my guard down so they can get to know me.
I’ve nearly lost a marriage because I’m late in understanding that I can’t control everything outside of myself because I do not always feel that I can control myself.
I’ve hurt others because I’m late in realizing that just because I was hurt by others much of my youth and early adulthood, I don’t have to be the first one to draw blood. I have learned I don’t have to assume that someone will eventually hurt me, so I’ll go first.
I’m late to building the deep relationship I would have liked with my parents—two parents gone too soon and a bonus mom who has truly been a gift to my life—because I held onto anger and pain far longer than I should have.
So, yes, I’m late. However, I also know I have more time. I don’t know how much time. But, right now, this day, this minute, I have more time.
More time to really sit and look people in the eyes and listen to their stories, their thoughts, their doubts, their passions.
More time to introduce myself to a potential new friend, remove any mask I might be wearing due to old insecurities, and give them a chance to really get to know me.
More time to strengthen my marriage, knowing that my partner truly sees me and loves me in all my light and darkness; he knows that I am still trying to learn the lessons he already has about life, love, acceptance, relaxing, and not worrying about so many things that don’t truly matter when it comes down to our time here on Earth.
More time to demonstrate to my kids that I’ve learned that love and acceptance and encouragement are gifts I can give them that are so much more effective than criticism and shame.
I know I am not too late because I am constantly learning. Through friendships and other relationships, in therapy, from reading and listening to podcasts and sometimes simply observing…I am learning from others who have already figured out how to stop being late.
So, while I may be late to many lessons of life, I am hopeful.
Hopeful because I’ve realized this.
Hopeful because I have people in my life who never gave up on me.
Hopeful because in my mind and heart, I have a path laid out before me that, while it will no doubt include some rocks that I stumble over, will help me arrive right on time to my next destination.