I believe that time flies. I believe that it’s never too late. And I believe that most clichés have an element of truth in them, or they never would have become clichés in the first place.
Two years ago, I decided to go back to school. This is almost 35 years after getting my original college diploma. Somehow work interfered, and then childrearing, and then moving across the country, and by the time I finally applied to and then entered a masters program (in Library & Information Studies at UCLA), I found myself with classmates who have parents younger than I am; another time-warp: some of my advanced-degree professors were born after I graduated from college.
I am not alone in being a returning student; my fellow fifty-somethings and I joke about donning the student “uniform” of blue jeans in order to avoid being misidentified as professors as we walk the campus.
Harder than fitting into slim jeans, however, is absorbing how much more there is to learn since I blithely strolled across a different campus in a different decade.
I’m shocked at myself each time I draw a blank on things my fellow students all seem to take for granted, and even more shocked at how much they hardly heard of, names and places that were crucial to my own sense of self and the world. Establishments and events that meant so much to my formation – whether it’s telephone “party lines,” or the assassinations of JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King, or a world before Closed Caption television let alone googling, RSS feeds and blogs, a world when people I knew were wounded in Vietnam while others ardently demonstrated to bring an end to that war, when the Watergate hearings seemed to promise that government really must answer to its citizens, when AIDS was incurable and killed so many wonderful artists and friends – so many intense periods in my own life are dry pages of history to many of my schoolmates.
And yet, because we are now doing projects together and fervently discussing ideas together and aspiring to common goals, we are somehow all on the same page — the back-to-school grandparents, the fresh-out-of-undergrad kids with multiple piercings and tattoos. . . and me.
So, it’s true that time flies. It’s sometimes true that it’s never too late. But it is especially true that it’s never too soon – too soon to make a plan, too soon to make an effort, too soon to take a chance. Which means it’s never too late… to grow.
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