I’ve come across this quote twice recently, it’s from Madeleine L’Engle. Whilst it has some impact when younger, as we age, we can look back at differing times in our lives, choices we made, or didn’t make. Regrets for things done and not done.

Remember the joy you felt as a child – lazing in the sun, chasing a butterfly, savouring an ice cream. We were in tune with our senses.

The excitement over getting our first job, first car, first deep relationship. We weren’t thinking of it all going wrong, we were in the moment.

We can also remember our nervousness, how we lacked confidence, how we were afraid to take the step. How we were more focused on fitting in than on standing out.

We can remember the worries we had … and now looking back we see how things have changed.

We can be appreciative of how far we came, the resilience shown, and the impact we have had on peoples’ lives.

Remember, we are not too old and it is not too late (how I love sharing that with other people!)

I shared a video recently on looking ahead 25 years, perhaps to the age of 90.

Part of what I say includes:

Life is a journey to wholeness. Wholeness includes un-wholeness, which is where you can accept the imperfect, broken part of yourself, and also of everyone else. This is part of wisdom. We may wonder about what might have been, but this wonder is one of curiosity. What is most important is what is right for us now and will be right for us in the future. And by paying more attention to our senses, especially our feelings, we are more likely to accept how things are and what comes next.

I refer to exercise 13. 6 from Rethinking Retirement for Positive Ageing.  I ask the reader to take a longer view and imagine your life at 90 or 25 years into the future.

Take 10 minutes to write whatever comes into your mind.

As you sit there at 90, I then want you to look back over the past 20 odd years.

What are you most proud of? What stands out as part of your legacy? I think by looking into the future and seeing how we think it’s going to go, we can either think, yay, bring this on, or we can think, that’s not quite what I want … we’ve got time to do something different. It might be something that you can do alone. It might be something that you want to pair up with somebody else on. I’m seriously considering group sessions, where we can work together on these areas, learning from each other.

So, we can look back and see how things have changed, lessons learned, achievements.

And we can look forward and see how things could turn out.

But that is just one path, we have differing possibilities. If you continue on a path is that the right one for you or is there a need to take some action, to make some changes – to do more, or less, or something different. To say yes or no. To breathe and take some time to consider what you really want.,

We can do this at any age but around the later life transition it seems even more important


Does this resonate? I’d love to hear your views.


From Dr Denise Taylor, her latest book is Rethinking Retirement for Positive Ageing. Previous books include Find Work at 50+. Denise is a chartered psychologist, career coach and wilderness rites of passage guide.

Published On: November 16th, 2023 / Categories: Ageing, Retirement /