I get emails from Quora, a website database of crowd-sourced information. The email included a question that I have often asked myself.
The user is in his late twenties (*check*), hasn’t done “much” with his life (I put much in quotations because everything is relative) and he’s wondering if he’s too late in the game to try anything new or to accomplish any real goal in life because he’s *sniff* approaching thirty.
I picked out the best responses to his question, of which there are plenty, including some from well-known motivational writers like James Altucher, who reminded the user (and me) that the inventor of Ramen noodles didn’t get around to patenting his amazing food staple for the chronically poor and hungry until he was 48.
Here’s what I gleaned from the multitude of answers:
“A sunk cost from yesterday should not be part of today’s equation.” — Marcus Geduld
“Most intentional success is accomplished in a relatively short period of time, and rarely in your twenties.” — Keinosuke Johan Miyanaga
“With time and age, our distance from where we began widens, and the consequences of how we spend our time begins to outweigh our initial advantages and disadvantages.” — same as above
“By choosing a goal or destination we can decide for ourselves to put in the work that will get us there.” — ditto
“Life life intentionally.” — yep, same dude. He’s smart!
So. Now you can see that there are plenty of reasons why it’s not too late. I put myself through a lot of anxiety worrying about that question around my mid-twenties. That was when I began training as a singer and I was worried that I had missed my opportunity to become really good at it. Funny thing is, all the while I was worrying about that I was still training and so, consequently, a few years later, I’ve become a pretty damn good singer! And I’m no longer worried about whether it’s too late for me to sing well because I can! And I do! And I love doing it!
This Quora question came at the right time for me. Shortly after I read this, I started reading The Brain that Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve learned. It’s truly a wonderful book that has absolutely changed my mind about our capacity to learn. You know how that old saying goes, you only use about 10% of your brain? That’s bullshit. Don’t let anyone tell you that. You use a heck of a lot more brain power than you think. The brain is a beautiful organism and we’re all blessed to have one.
Between the Quora link and the book I read, I came to realize something: there are so many things that I want to do with my life! Recently I had the opportunity to hold a violin from the 18th century in my own hands. As I held it, marveling at the beauty, memories of violins past filled my head. My grandfather built them. His last one belongs to my cousin and I’ve coveted it since I was a little girl. The only reason he was able to take it before I could lay claim to it was because he lives in Poland, where my grandfather passed away, and I do not. Last year, Dr. Draw, a Toronto-based violin player, threw his spent bow into the audience watching him play and it landed directly in my hand. I kept that bow. My boyfriend, also a musician, plays with fiddlers often. Learning how to play would give us more opportunities to play and sing together. Learning to play the violin would also improve my ear training.
So, is it too late to learn how to play the violin? A year ago I would have thought so. In fact, I did. I looked up the words “how to play the violin” on Youtube last year and I was overwhelmed by the difficulty of learning the instrument. But this year I think differently. I’m not afraid to try something new. I know it’s not too late and I know my brain has the capacity to learn a new skill. I just need to make the first step.