Brain Food #771: Old enough today
Do you dare disturb the universe?
Thoughts of the day
The youngest US president to serve to date remains Theodore Roosevelt, who was sworn on this date 121 years ago, in 1901. The median age of inauguration for US presidents is 55. In more recent events, Charles became King of the United Kingdom at the age of 73, the oldest person to assume the throne.
We value and praise experience, yet admire those who rise to glory young.
In What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell writes about late bloomers, asking ‘Why do we equate genius with precocity?’ He provides examples of people who reached their peak later in life, such as Alfred Hitchcock, “who made Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho—one of the greatest runs by a director in history—between his fifty-fourth and sixty-first birthdays.”
In a previous post, I asked the question ‘How old is old enough?’
Success stories rarely come overnight; they are the culmination of years of work and focus, the result of carrying on, sometimes even without having a clear definition of success in mind, and having faith that it will all amount to something in the end. Success stories can sometimes be about how early we start, but they are mostly about recognising and saying yes to opportunities when they come along, even if we do not feel ready for them; especially if we do not feel ready for them.
And the question of ‘How old is old enough’ relates not only to the idea of success, but also to any personal milestone that one might want to reach, whether that is getting married, or learning to play tennis.
The answer might be as simple as: ‘We are old enough today.’
For those who feel chased by time, T.S. Eliot wrote The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, a poem that is -partly- about the anxiety that comes with mortality, through the thoughts of a man who is consumed by the idea of being too late, at the age of 23. It was Eliot’s first professionally published poem. Perhaps he thought it was going to be his last. He died when he was 77.
“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”
Thank you for reading today’s Brain Food. Brain Food is a short newsletter that aims to make you think every day, without taking up too much of your time. If you know someone who would like it, why not forward it to them?
And if you have just come across Brain Food, you can subscribe to it below:
For longer thoughts and Brain Food highlights from the archives, visit Medium.