Every now and then I’ll read some thing that instantly floors me. I’ll get goosebumps and my mind races while I try to slow it down to process what I’ve just read.
Marina Keegan had just graduated Yale when she died in a car accident. In light of this, her final column in the Yale Daily News is magic. It so eloquently captures the feeling of infinite possibility that comes with young adulthood:
Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.
But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.
Those are feelings I can painfully relate with. The fear of not measuring up, not living up to my potential, of falling behind, and then the eventual calm when I realize that there is still infinite possibility. I could never ever have predicted the course of events that has come in my life to date. The times when I was most bleak, most self-critical, self-loathing, when I feared that I had blown my “one chance” was usually right before a turning point that opened a fantastic door. You never know. As Marina said, “it’s never too late.”
It’s pitch-perfect with this quote from Benjamin Button that I absolutely love. It resonates so much that I want to worship it:
it’s never too late…to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
The quote is just so right. So amazing.
It, of course, strikes me as harsh that someone with so much talent, so young, beautiful, and smart would have her life ended so prematurely. It strikes at our notion of a plan– it’s why national disasters that kills tens of thousands don’t unsettle us as much as a terrorist attack — natural disasters are supposed to happen, terrorist attacks are not. To see death come to the very young frightens: If it could happen to her, couldn’t it happen to me? Her writing gives me the sense that Marina lived her life to the fullest with each of the too short days that she did have. I’d like to believe that this came through in her writing. For those who knew her, if they said the same, it’s more, unfortunately, than a great many who have lived twice as long can say.
Let’s remember: It’s never too late. To start. To dwell in infinite possibilities. It’s never too late, because we don’t know how long we have, or what’s in store. So let’s “begin a beginning.”