It’s Not the Years in Your Life

Humans. We’re extending our lives a little more everyday. Doctors actually printed out a 3D heart so that they could save the life of a baby recently. We’re getting closer to immortality all the time. Maybe one day we can defrost Disney, become bionic, and clone our clones.

But being immortal isn’t going to help us live our lives now. In fact, it doesn’t matter how old you are, 9 or 90, you aren’t going to survive for 10 more years or even 100 if you don’t understand this basic principle: there is always time to live up to your potential.

You need to believe that you can start anew at any time. No matter how many times you have failed or how many times you have started over before. You have to know that you can learn or try anything new, at any age. That, just like Madonna, you can reinvent yourself.

I mean, I hear all of the time that children can learn languages quickly. A child’s brain is already mapping new ideas and connections all of the time, so what’s one more English word, one more Spanish phrase?

But what everyone assumes from this fact is that there is a small window that you have to jump through in terms of knowledge. If you don’t do something when you’re young, you will never learn to do it at all. And if you miss the opportunity, well, you miss out. Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Science does not say that we ever stop learning at a fixed point in our lives. We can discover a new language, a new skill, or a new lifestyle at any time, and we absolutely should.

Yes, it may not feel like you have a lot of time on this Earth. And it isn’t fair that we are limited to a lifetime that is synonymous with the blink of an eye on any other planet. But I assure you, you will have plenty of time to write the next award-winning screenplay, the next 700-page tome, the next best chapter of your life. That is, if you start right now and never stop.

I don’t know when you’ll die. It could be tomorrow. And it could be 500,000 tomorrows from now. But I can assure you, if you begin by squeezing every drop out of life, you will never feel as though your time is running out. Just the opposite.

That is Not What I Meant At All; That is Not It, At All.

That is one line in “The Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.

It’s a gorgeous poem, and if you get a chance, you should read it. (I’ll even pardon you if you must leave this blog to go read it. But you should come back because I have other things to say.)

Although the poem has such gems as Do I dare disturb the universe? or In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo, the most powerful line for me is the one I’ve inserted into the title.

Because it’s absolutely mad.

I mean, you have to be a famous poet to write that line. To suggest that when people misinterpret what you say, you will have the chance to correct them. Wow. I mean, that deserves some applause. “That is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.” Do you know how the world replies to that? Too bad.

Because everyone is off and judging before the word “go.” Anything you ever write or say or do is going to be misinterpreted and misjudged. Whether you meant anything by it or not, people will read between the lines that you never intended. I wish there was a nicer way to say this, but chances are you will never give off the impression that you want. Meaning is not for you to hold on to; it is for the world to decide.

So, if it doesn’t matter what you mean, why am I telling you this? If you can never make people understand your exact vision, then what’s the point?

The point is you can’t hide because you aren’t sure of the impression you will make. Simultaneously, you cannot try to tell people that they aren’t understanding you correctly. Because that’s an endeavor in futility. It’s like standing in a modern art museum and trying to convince everyone that every piece deserves to be there. It’s simply not happening. Besides, in everyone’s minds, they are the masterful painter of their own reality, not you.

So, let people think what they will, and try your best not to correct them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, whether you believe it or not.