A TGB EXTRA: Happy Halloween
INTERESTING STUFF – 2 November 2019

Too Young We're Old, Too Old We're Wise

A search around the web for the phrase that is today's headline got me nowhere. (Well, I didn't try all that hard but still.)

Now I wonder if I shouldn't just credit my mother who uttered it so frequently in my childhood that I thought it was a universal truism carved in stone somewhere for all to see.

What has happened in my old age is that finally, at last and after all these 78 years of life, I realize that for all those previous decades I made life harder on myself than it needed to be.

It's not like I hadn't heard advice similar to the list below, or that if I had listened to that little voice in my head I would have known what I was doing was probably futile. But I did it anyway.

It has taken cancer, a months-long recovery from surgery and recent new limitations due to COPD for me to see there is an easier way.

So here is a partial list of good advice I ignored for too many years. I know some of them sound like platitudes but that doesn't make them wrong or unhelpful.

⏺ When things aren't going well, remember: This too shall pass.
⏺ Don't spend time worrying. It never changes outcomes.
⏺ Trust your instincts. (Unless your life has proved you shouldn't.)
⏺ Enjoy what you can do; ignore what you can't.
⏺ Remember: Most of the time things work out or, at least, don't fail catastrophically.
⏺ Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer is always good to keep in mind:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

⏺ Laugh long, loudly and often.

These “rules” (suggestions? advice?) are unique to me and as you undoubtedly noticed, relate mostly to control – the fact that a whole lot of what happens in life is not under my control. Which took me a lifetime to learn.

“Too young we're old, too old we're wise.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mom. I got it now.

Feel free to add your own life lessons, especially those you learned late in life.


A wealth of food for thought today, Ronni, thank you!

The version of your own mother's saying I learned from one of the accumulated grandmas I knew due to growing up with many 'stepfathers' was from a sweet German lady with a classic accent..."Too soon OLD...too LATE schmart!!"

For me, a quiet 30 minute morning sitting near a window, sipping a cup of coffee and pondering this life and day almost always makes things better for me. Some would call it Meditation I suppose. But I rarely argue with success and try to always get it in.

Yet my favorite maxim of all in this regard is likely from an old Reader's Digest I could bring home from the Library's 'give away' table as a teenager:

The prayer of a Scotch Elder...
"Oh Lord, point me right, for Thou knoweth if I get started wrong, Thou Thyself could not change me."

My mom use to say - Life is a dream; close your eyes and it’s gone. Needless to say it took me a life time to ‘get it.’

Thanks Ronnie for always candidly sharing your story and making us think about the good, bad, ugly And beautiful.

Love your list!
The quote I always heard from my grandma was “Too soon old, too late smart”. They knew they knew.

I could quote Mel Brook's Two Thousand -Year- Old- Man whose life lesson was to "Eat a nectarine every day. It's the best fruit ever made." Or, I could tell you the real thing I learned which is to gather as much knowledge as you can about everything. Not to be an expert, but to be able to know when somebody is pulling your leg or is not being honest with you. Knowledge is the one thing you'll keep all your life.

Here's a life lesson I learned many years ago from a British murder mystery, possibly by Margery Allingham, and though I've never had an opportunity to apply it, I've never forgotten it either, because it's so much fun to say:

"It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide."

Get it?

Running through my mind since I saw it yesterday at an antique store:

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

I've worried in anticipation of unseen calamities for too long! Into my seventh decade, this is my new favorite.

My son recently sent me this Buddhist proverb: "If you have a problem that can be fixed, there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, there is no use in worrying." I'm a chronic worrier and would do well to remember this.

"Too soon old, too late smart"--Ah, Susan, was your grandmother German? That seems to be a common proverb in that language.

Regardless, it's totally true, of course, which is why it survives (and why I think some version of it every time I ruminate over my own many past mistakes!)

In response to Paula: I was preparing to post this! My uncle was born in Germany in 1900 and used to quote his father as saying this. It is, indeed, a very old adage.


As much as I enjoy Ronni's writings, I enjoy the comments from her readers just as much. This site sure does seem to draw a great chorus of voices.

I've got nothing to add here, but dealing with a chronic condition (and a lot of upset feelings about it), these life & aging quotes are very much appreciated today.

I heard it the same way, Charlene, from my mother (z"l), who I thought got it either from someone Amish or who spoke Yiddish! Laughing at the possible derivation.

Good lessons, Ronni. I wonder if I'll ever get the one that allows me to not worry or try to change things.

Laughter, OTOH, I'm doing more of thanks to Sarah Routman, a laughter yoga instructor, who is fabulous. I love laughter yoga bec you don't need a mat and you don't have to move too much .. tho' your belly will feel it and for those of us older women, caution is advised!

Love all of this - Ronni's post and the comments. Makes me think of those of us who were fortunate enough to be able to choose the work we did when we were younger, and how it continued to shape us. Ronni was a tv producer; hard to think of any job that is more about control! Anticipating, preparing, making sure all is in place to avert discomfort or disaster. I was a social worker, in daily contact with people struggling to live their lives amid situations over which they had little to no control.
Their examples sustain me to this day.

One of your better blogs, Ronni.
You should repeat it every few months to remind us oldies to hesitate a moment and think!!
I worked for IBM for 30 years and it's motto was the simple word: THINK.
Even at 95, I have to remind myself, so frequently.

My father gave me guidance regarding gambling that also applies to other things in life: "Any time you're tempted to sit in on a poker game in a strange place, remember at least two players will be smarter than you."

The Serenity Prayer was our high school graduating class motto. Wish I could say it has always been my life guide, but alas, only as I aged did I realize that nugget of wisdom. Great post today, thanks.

Two nuggets
1 . My dad's: Always have something, no matter how small, to look forward to.

2. Is mine as I can be quite self righteous. Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?

Great list.


Good, cheap and fast: pick two 'cuz that's all ya get.

I learned “Too soon old, too late smart” as a child on a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country, where it is a popular aphorism. These are the two I live by:

1. Possibly an Arabian proverb: “Trust in God, but tie your camel.”

2. From Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Great post and comments as always. Things I wished I had learned much younger than I did:
- Old friends (espec. the ones you make when you're a kid) are the best friends. (I just wish I had made some back then; I did try, I swear, sigh.)
- Just because someone acts friendly toward you doesn't necessarily mean they want to be friends; sometimes people just need someone to listen while they talk.
- This applies to those of us who had just jobs we hated or could barely stand rather than careers: Never volunteer at work and if possible, try to constantly be not quite all caught up or you'll be "volunteered" by a boss to do extra work (for no more time or $$, of course). Learned this one from my Mom.
- If someone other than a real close friend asks how you are, there are only 2 correct answers: (1) "Great" - if you're actually doing great or even just so-so; or (2) "Okay" - if things are awful.

Sounds like a smart mom.

G’day to all from Al in Adelaide, Australia

Apropos Ronni’s recent, as ever, delight filled post I would add a variation of the Serenity Prayer for your consideration.

This, the Senility Prayer, is integral to a little ‘piece’ of standup comedy which I have been working up with title of ‘The weird ways of the Megamature’.

“Please grant me the senility to remember all those people I never liked. Hang on, that’s not right. To forget all those I never liked. The good fortune to encounter those that I do - and the eyesight to tell the difference.”

But worrying works:most of the things I worry about never happen! LOL

I saved this TGB post by Charlene Drewry 27 April 2018:

I cannot change the past nor the inevitable,
so I attempt to play my tune on the one string I have,
my own attitude.
'Most' of the time it will change the quality of the new day for me,
regardless of new bends in the road.

Alex Haley:
Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure
that the reality is going to deal with you.

Neil deGrasse Tyson:
The good thing about science is that it's true
whether or not you believe in it.

...And always let your conscience be your guide.
~Jiminy Cricket

I learned the saying so many have commented on as this phrase: "too soon old, too late smart", from my mother. And this from Dr. Laura Schlesinger, (sp?) who had a call-in radio advise talk show, in the 80's and 90's; she was a psychologist:
"would you rather be right or would you rather be LOVED".

As I get older I think of all the saying my mother passed on to us, and recently told a friend:
it's important to "buy hyacinths to feed the soul", when she castigated herself for buying
a ceramic soup tureen for $5.00 that she thought she did not need.

I love the serenity prayer and must remember to repeat it to myself more often.

A great post, Ronni. I had not heard the too soon old, too late smart saying, but I like it. I also enjoyed all the comments.

My mother would not say that but would quote the French poet Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), mostly the last two sentences from his Sonnet to Helen “Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain : Cueillez dés aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.” Which would translate as “Live, if you believe me, Wait not for the morrow, Gather the roses of your life today.” She always wanted me to seize the moment, the opportunity, the adventure. When I decided to go to the US, alone, at 21 she said “go for it.”

My father never wanted to go on holiday with her but wait until retirement to travel all over Europe. A few months after retirement, at 64, he was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

Ronni, I am a relative youngster in my fifties but have been following you and your followers for the past while. And a Canadian to boot. I am listening and appreciate what everyone . Thanks for opening the "curtain to what lies ahead" and for your truth.

My father passed away several month ago at age ninety. Three things he said over and over.

1. Guard your time.
2. Don't tell others your plans. Just put them in motion.
3.Do not do business with family or friends.

I always wish I would have enjoyed my days in the younger years. I am 76 now and feel like my days are numbered.


I have learned money isn't everything. Take more time to spend with the ones you love! I have worked in the home improvement business for many years and while I loved my job I was always too busy to be with my family.

Thanks for all the wise advice!

Here are a few:

1) If a problem can be fixed with money it's not a problem, it's an expense.
2) Pay it forward
3) Carry something to give to people who beg rather than pass them by, like...individually wrapped food (kind bars, granola bars), clementines, a card with the name of social services, it feels better than looking away and while it may not be exactly what they want, it's better than being treated as if they didn't exist.

Wow Polly -- that really is wise advice!!!

Ronni-- this site is golden -- you are our guide to life.

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