Do you ever have one of those moments when you’re asking why Life has delivered TOO MUCH TOO LITTLE TOO LATE? Check out a terrific rendition of this song by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams. Key lines from the song can leave us older adults wondering—
Guess it’s over, the kids are gone…
The chips are down
What’s the use of tryin’ to hang on?
Nearly all our bridges tumbled down…
Somewhere we lost the key…
Too much, too little, too late to ever try again!
Lyrics written By Nat Kipner & John Vallins
Considering that too much too little too late happens to most of us at one time or another, then next to explore is to ask what it is that we are hanging on to that leaves us questioning Life in the first place. Are we hanging on to what we think or believe is our life’s purpose? To our relationships? Spiritual teachings? Hobbies? Possessions? The community we feel a part of? Life itself? Have we had too much or too little of any of these, and did they come too late?
Hanging on takes energy. As we age, we become protective of waning energy. Simply put, there are days when we’re just TOO TIRED…
… too tired of calling Customer Service when a product fails to deliver… tired of dealing with other people’s problems… tired of exercise regimes… tired of fighting with family members… tired of housekeeping and doing renovations… tired of making meals… tired of buying gifts for people that don’t need them… tired of e-transferring money to those who don’t like the gifts we do buy… tired of emailing the same idiot four times because the idiot doesn’t read past four words… tired of volunteering… tired of rude people… tired of cold weather… tired of fake news… tired of not having all that is needed to feel safe… tired of injustices… tired of thoughtless Facebook posts… tired of dealing with airport security protocols… tired of internet and phone scams… tired of watching movies that show amorous sex as being best done while standing and banging up against a wall… tired of standing up for any length of time at all!
… too tired to try again to build something new, take on new adventures, take risks, reclaim who we are and the sense of achievement that that can bring.
On those days when we’re tired of the stuff life brings, some of us curl up on the couch with popcorn, pizza, ice cream and Netflix. Others decide to take a chance and make change. Even the type of day—cloudy, sunny, stormy, calm, full moon—can affect what action(s) or decision(s) we’ll make about life at that moment.
Before treading down this ‘tired’ path any further, you’ll notice that no mention is made of being tired because of devastating life events. No mention is made of having to face cancer treatment, or of sitting at a child’s hospital bedside, watching in agony as love itself is being eaten up by disease, or of life shattered by sudden loss, or of facing the crumbling of a career or business… and so on.
Rather, this article is about the compilation of daily straws that break the camel’s back, to use a well-worn idiom. It’s about the too much or too little stuff that accumulates over time in our every-day lives, with one last bit finally throwing us off our game, that one last bit leaving us tired, worn out, needing a jolt of goodness… and possibly too tired to even see the goodness.
I deeply appreciate the experiences of tragedy or despair that I’ve staggered through and seen others reel from. To be sure, these events are debilitating, pivotal points in one’s life that change or break one completely. They demand our soul and mind, leaching every ounce of energy from our being.
Yet, scientists tell us that tragedies ignite our innate survival instincts, and that “only tragedy can successfully nurture our inner ethical compass and our sense of empathetic compassion for others and for ourselves.” Source
Indeed, having survived the horrendous, it’s understandable that the older adult might tire more easily from daily annoyances such as those listed at the beginning of this discourse. Whether one is muddling through the frustrations of day-to-day life, or is forced to face a crucial situation, we all have those moments when we shake our fists at God, shout and stamp our feet, or cuss at the driver on the freeway.
STOP THE WORLD AND LET ME OFF
This phrase means, I’m tired of life, and is intended serio-ironically, and not in genuine despair. Source
Wondering whether to hang on to this or that, wondering if it’s too late to try again, perhaps helpful is the advice in Don Schlitz’s lyrics in, The Gambler, as sung by Kenny Rogers—
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealing's done
LIFE AIN’T FAIR!
We often act as if fairness in life has the same quality as fairness in interpersonal transactions. It does not.
- Talented poets sell far fewer copies of their books than less talented writers of crime fiction.
- Society’s most moral citizens sometimes fall ill with cancer, while the most hardened criminals remain healthy.
- Less qualified people sometimes win the promotion.
- Some children are born into poverty while others are born into affluence.
The idea that “life isn’t fair” isn’t just some hard-knocks philosophy espoused by tough-as-nails elders who lived through the Depression; it is an observation that there is an element of random luck that affects all of us… a bitter pill to swallow for all of us who want to be the heroes of our own stories. With an eye on our own effort and our own virtue, it can be easy to confuse entitlement for fairness (or a lack thereof). Source
Aside from our dealing with an aching hip or random hair growth in our noses and ears, or other annoyances we’re told is to be expected with aging, and aside from our children having gone off to build independent lives, has our daily existence changed that much because we’re older? Perhaps. Probably.
Is the aging process ultimately responsible for our fatigue, our impatience and intolerance in dealing with the cacca that hits our fan? Perhaps. Probably.
There is hope, maybe not in our lifetime, but hope nonetheless! Dr. Aubrey de Grey, biomedical gerontologist, chief science officer and co-founder of the SENS Research Foundation, believes that “the first person who will live to be 1,000 years old is already among us”.
Scientists are attempting to reverse-engineer our molecular biological clock, the idea being that there would be no limit to how long we could remain healthy. In the meantime, it goes without saying that some of the best ways to be healthy as we age are to:
- Never have smoked; still smoking? Quit now and reap long-term benefits;
- Log a minimum of 2 hours of physical activity per week; source
- Keep a normal weight.
“You don’t have to target all of these hallmarks to get improvement in health spans”, says Nir Barzilai, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health’s Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research.
WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I? (Sung by Sammy Davis Jr.)
When there’s too much too little too late in life, we may wonder how we ended up where we are, even though we’ve taken full responsibility for our choices along the way. Nevertheless, we’ve reached this point in time and are making decisions as to how best to move through our remaining years, however many they may be.
Sure we’ll stop smoking, do some exercise, and eat a healthy diet… take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health. We’ll clip the nose and ear hairs, do our stretches after the hip replacement, and be the best of our best with our loved ones. No doubt this will give us that little boost of energy when we’re shaking our heads at the world.
Okay, so we make it through those head-shaking days… is that enough?
I lean on the wisdom of those who have gone before me, who have seen a world I’ve yet to visit, who have suffered beyond any measure, who didn’t let their dragons call the shots. Be inspired by the following when too much or too little is too late—
- One has to be grown-up enough to realize that life is not fair; you just have to do the best you can in the situation you’re in. – Stephen Hawking
- The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. – Groucho Marx
- Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise. – George Orwell
- Yet the evil still increased, and, like the parasite of barnacles on a ship, if it did not destroy the structure, it obstructed its fair, comfortable progress in the path of life. – William Banting
- In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. – Tao Te Ching
And, from the 13th Century poet, Rumi, THE GUEST HOUSE (Translated by Coleman Barks) —
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
GROW OLD CREATIVELY
I leave you with a perky little tune by singer/actor Dennis Waterman, IT’S ALRIGHT, IT’S OKAY, that has quickly become my theme song for those days when I’m shaking my head at this crazy world we live in!
May today be your watershed moment in creating a life that’s fulfilling!
In January 2020, during the commemoration in Israel of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about “a family of four brothers… Three of them, their parents and their families became victims of the Holocaust. All of them were shot by German occupiers who invaded Ukraine. The fourth brother survived… Two years after the war, he had a son, and in 31 years he had a grandson. In 40 more years, that grandson is standing before you today”. By Gillian Brockell, Washington Post February 25, 2022
Stop the world and let me off is credited to American journalist, columnist and author Harvey Earl Wilson who used it in his article published in May 1951.
- A variation of the phrase, stop the world, I want to get off, appears as the title of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s book and 1961 Musical, the musical later resurrected into a movie in 1996.
- This popular phrase is heard in hit songs, like this one by Waylon Jennings, and out of the mouths of characters such as Carl Wheezer
Finding Beauty in Decay – Sculptor Frank Bruce
Life Isn’t Fair – What can we do about it? (PDF download)
With special thanks to Pixabay artist for freely sharing their wonderful graphics!