Too Late, Baby, Not Too Late?
Some things aren’t easily sorted, others fall into place.
For the last few days, I’ve been making a Not Too Late list just as I encouraged you to do. You know, the list that I want to be short when I take my last breath? It’s a living list, meaning it can (and will) be updated at any time. This is it so far. It may not sound too adventurous but if you know me, I can gin up adventure out of anything!
1. To myself be true
2. Laugh, a lot
3. Walk every day, lose weight, build up my knee, hike the foothill trails, and ride my horse
4. Transition out of a day job to TRAVEL MORE, WRITE FULL TIME, and replace the income I’d lose by moving on
5. Find a perfect, cuddly little one-person dog that loves me
6. Sing and play my guitar (for my own enjoyment, maybe someday to share)
7. Make the perfect pie crust, set out an amazing charcuterie and wine
It’s a not-unambitious list but as I thought about it, I realized there are some things that are conspicuous in their absence. You may think of others. If so, please write them below (so I do think about them).
Repairing broken relationships with family and friends, for example. And paying off our mortgage isn’t there either (although we scratched off estate planning a few years back). They’re both on my Too Late list.
Let’s talk about the mortgage first. It’s only on the Too Late list because the Professor and I didn’t get serious about retirement until our move to Idaho about 12 years ago. We’ll never pay off our mortgage though we hired a financial planner to help us make up for lost time. When we walked through his door I told the guy, I don’t want to live out the rest of my life in a motel room cooking off a hot plate. So, we won’t. We aren’t wealthy but we’re comfortable (unless health care keeps going up). Take it from me, financial planning should be on EVERYONE’s Not Too Late list (before it really is too late and you’re looking for motel rooms in a bad part of town).
But now onto the touchier subject: restoring relationships. Though some believe there’s nothing more important than this I can only agree with a qualifier: some relationships aren’t worth saving. Not for shared history and not for anything. They’re the ones that you maintain even though they don’t treat you well or because you think you should or someone else tells you that you should, not because you really want to.
In order to put a relationship on the Too Late list it’s important to be unemotional about it, not to harbor resentment or anger anymore. Sure, there was a time when you were disappointed, maybe cruelly so, but have you made peace with it? Are you absolutely sure? If so, then I think it’s fair to judge the likelihood of reconciliation should be nil and to put that relationship on the Too Late list. If you can’t quite get to peace about it, leave it on a Maybe list and keep thinking it over.
Back to my It’s Not Too Late list.
Notice that the very first thing on my list is “to myself be true”. That’s not selfish, it’s healthy. I found that when I was trying to put other people’s items on my list it was out of trying to conform to their expectations instead of my own. So, even when I achieved them, doing that made me angry and sad because I had to ignore the things that could have made me happy to make them happy.
Like what? Like being who they want me to be, not who I am. As an adoptee, I have a long-ingrained history of conforming for acceptance. For years I carried it through to every other relationship I had. When I decided to be true to myself, I was saying, “I am fine just as I am.” And you know, I am. And spending time trying to be who others want me to be means that I have less time to find those who will love me as I am.
So, all this is to say that making the Not Too Late list isn’t as easy as it sounds. When I wrote about making it, I had no idea I’d have to think through these things too. It wasn’t as simple as just deciding on the things that I couldn’t bear to regret one day. It was also deciding what things I wouldn’t regret not having done.
Maybe it’s like that for you too. But regardless, make whatever lists you need to make. Or be sorry someday.