I’m borrowing and reprinting this letter, because it spoke to me. Read on for my personal takeaway.
“Elizabeth GilbertLike Page
29 March at 10:33 ·
IF YOU’RE NOT DEAD YET, YOU’RE NOT DONE YET.
Dear Ones –
This is a line my (73 year-old) mother said to me the other day, while she was issuing a gentle warning not to fall into the trap of letting your life get smaller as you get older.
She was talking about how frustrating she finds it that — somewhere around the age of 50 or 60 — she watched as so many of her peers stopped making goals and long-term plans for adventure and exploration in their lives. Instead, they began shutting down, and making their lives smaller, and their minds smaller, too. She got so weary of listening to them making self-deprecating jokes about how old they were, and how much their bodies hurt, and how bad their hearing and eyesight was getting… She felt they had surrendered to age far, far, far too soon. My mom said, “Nothing is more frustrating to me than listening to people who are still vital saying, ‘Well, at our age, you have to be careful…'”
No. She begs to differ. As you get older, there is no more time to be careful, and no more REASON to be careful — at least as my mom sees it. Instead, this is time to seize as much life and joy and adventure and learning and novelty as you possibly can. As my mom said, “I hate seeing people slide themselves into the grave far before their time. Death will come when it comes — but it’s crazy to sit around waiting for it. If you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet.”
My mom thinks that everyone should have a five-year plan for their lives, and also a ten-year plan, and a twenty-year plan — and that every few years you have to revisit your plans to see if your goals and aspirations have changed…and that you should never stop making these plans, even as you age. (Especially as you age!) She has shared with me the travel she wants to do in the next 20 years, and work she wants to finish, the projects she wants to begin, the cultures she wants to explore, the people she wants to enjoy, her fitness goals…
I have heard people speak of their lives as if they were finished at 30, done at 40, washed up at 50, too late to start over at 60, no more chances at 70…
But are you still here?
Then you aren’t done yet.
Don’t make your life smaller as the years pass. If it’s time to start over, then it’s time to start over. If you aren’t where you planned to be, then it’s time to make a new plan.
Today, I ask you all to share the most inspiring stories you know (from your own life, or the lives of others) about people who refused to be done yet, because they aren’t dead yet.
Rise up, everyone, and keep rising.
We are still here. There is much to be done and enjoyed.
I’ll just say: Guilty as charged, and I wholeheartedly agree, but it’s good to be reminded sometimes.
It’s so easy to get insecure and just give up and die inside. Everyone and thing around you and inside of you tells you you’re done, you’re no longer relevant, viable, or even visible. Your peers are all shriveled up and boring and petty, or they’re in denial, trying desperately to stay youngish looking. Their lives are behind them, and they’re just waiting to die.
I hate and resist becoming like that, but it’s insidious. I have to fight the tendency to just give in, resign myself to having had my chance to make a difference and failed, and time is running out. That’s the point—all the more reason to keep fighting and taking on the life that’s left, however long or short it may be. If I give up, I may as well be dead already.
We have so much learning yet to do, so many possible adventures and challenges ahead of us, and no time to lose. There’s lots of room to become better people, more compassionate, more open to new experiences and paths to explore. There are people in our lives, present and future, who need us to become better role models and allies. We’ve made our terrible mistakes, but it’s not over yet. We are never done, until we decide to die inside.
I’m going to keep trying, and flying, if it kills me!