Every now and then I’ll read some thing that just instantly floors me. I get goosebumps and my mind can’t help but slow down and try and process what I’ve read.
Marina Keegan had just graduated Yale when she died in a car accident. Her last column in the Yale Daily News is magical in that it captures so eloquently the feeling of infinite possibility that should come with young adulthood. See:
Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.
But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.
Those are feelings I can certainly relate to. The fear of not measuring up, not living up to our potential, of falling behind, and then the eventual calm when I realize that there’s infinite possibility. I could never ever have predicted the course of events that has come in my life to date. The times when I was most bleak, most self-critical, self-loathing, when I feared that I had blown my “one chance” was usually right before a turning point that opened a fantastic door. You never know. As Marina said, “it’s never too late.”
It was pitch perfect with this quote from Benjamin Button that I’ve always absolutely loved. That resonates so well that I worship it:
it’s never too late…to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
It’s just so right to me. So amazing. It of course strikes me as harsh that someone with so much talent, so young, beautiful, and smart would have her life ended so prematurely. It insults this notion of a plan — why national disasters that kills tens of thousands don’t unsettle or move us as much as a terrorist attack — this stuff isn’t supposed to happen. If it could happen to them, couldn’t it happen to me? For Marina, I sense that she lived life to her fullest with each of the too short days that she did have. That comes through in her writing. To those who knew her, it likely did in her daily life. That’s more, unfortunately, than a great many who have lived twice as long can say. That’s a lot.
Let’s remember. It’s never too late. To start. To dwell in infinite possibilities. It’s never too late, because we don’t know how long we have, or what’s in store. So let’s “begin a beginning.”
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