Reconciling “life is short” with “it’s never too late”.

This the answer I gave to the following question on Quora, “How can you deal with the contradiction of “life is too short” and “it’s never too late”?”

My mother and I had a game. We would try to think of two adages that contradicted each other. For example, “A stitch in time saves nine.” and “Haste makes waste.” One can ponder them as a paradox or see them as each having its own truth in the proper contexts. There are situations when quick action is needed and others when taking one’s time to do an intricate job with care is of utmost importance.

There are times when life’s too short. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Life is too short to hold a grudge. Life is too short to do things you really don’t want to do. Of course, there are exceptions to this last one. If you have been subpoenaed, fun or not, it’s a good idea to show up at the appointed time.

There are times when it’s never too late. It’s never too late to make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small. It’s never too late to make amends. It’s never too late to meet that special someone.

I am reminded of a saying by someone much wiser than myself,

Life is not a problem to be solved. —Marty Lowenthal

When you let go of trying to fix your life and start living your life fully, you can grow and change in the very process of living. Imagine that. Letting go of worry. Letting go of self-preoccupation and truly enjoy what you have in this very moment.

When you feel pushed to get things done, feel that you are perpetually behind, you feel like there is never enough time in the day. When you relax, relax into life, living life the way Jill Uchiyama describes in her eloquent prose, a moment can feel like an eternity. Think about the last time you just laid there stroking your lover’s hair or listening to your child as if there was all the time in the world.

Your sense of time is different. You let go of the unnecessary and remember those small things that are important: spending time with family, taking time to care for yourself, enjoying the world around you, taking the time to listen to music with complete attention, noticing the shape of the melody and the changing scenery of the harmony.

And you know what? You are in better shape for doing all of the busy things in life.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Sculpture: Alberto Giacometti sculpture; name and location unknown; Photo by Stanley Zimny

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