Friday, September 19, 2014

Never too late

One day, not too awfully long ago, I was standing at a wicket at the Department of Motor Vehicles and waiting for someone to process a form, when I saw the most peculiar sight at the next wicket. Two people were standing there - the family resemblance and the ages told me that it was probably a grandfather and grandson. 

"Oh isn't that sweet," I thought to myself. "Someone is getting his first driver's license." 

I started to listen in on the conversation. The two men beside me were both Korean. The woman was speaking to the younger man, who looked to be about 16. He was acting as an interpreter for the older man (who looked to be about 70) who was paying the money to the counter attendant. And that's when I heard it. "Make sure he knows that this license is good for two years, and it expires on his birthday," she told the younger man. "So he will need to come in here before that date to renew it." 

The young man promised. The older man put the newly acquired license as well as the receipt in his wallet, murmured a "Thank you," to the woman, and the two of them made their way out of the building.

I thought about those two for the rest of the day. What a proud moment for them both! I found myself picturing the process they had just been through - wondering how much the younger had to convince the older that he could do this.  I thought about how this teenager was probably with the older man every step of the way as he learned the rules of the road enough to take his beginner's test, acting as interpreter the whole time. He may have gone out with him multiple times as he practiced. Finally, he went with his granddad when he was taking the road test (acting as interpreter for the instructions of the examiner). And that very day as I was there beside him, he got his 'graduated' license, something that sixteen-year-olds look forward to, dream about, and long for in our culture. 

We take it for granted. 

What an inspiration they both were - the young man for the commitment he showed, the caring that was obviously there on his face - and the time he took to be there for his grandfather. And the older man inspired me, reminded me that it's never too late to make a new start, to learn a new thing. Never mind that he only had a few years left to enjoy this new freedom he would now enjoy; the point was that he would be able to enjoy it. 

Over the last while I've had some doubts about how feasible it is for me to get my education in preparation for a new career. I'm in my fifties and to go to school with people who are less than half my age is somewhat off-putting. I enjoy the learning part (even if it scary at times) but sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it. And then I remember that old Korean man. So many strikes against him - the language barrier and his age being the top two - and yet he persevered because he saw value in having that license so he could help his family and possibly even so that he would not be a burden to them. 

It's never too late. No matter how much less time I would have than someone half my age, what matters is that I enjoy the rest of my life and that I'll be able to help as many people as I will be able to help. Me. Not my age, not my appearance, but me. With all the life experience that I bring to the table, I know that when I finally graduate (which won't be for a few years yet) I will be uniquely positioned to be able to help people to find their own pathway to freedom, to "get unwrapped."

And I guess it reminds me of another thing. 

I'm really looking forward to getting MY license, too.

Photo "Psychiatrist Examining A Male Patient"
courtesty of Ambro at

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