December 6, 2021

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Lesson of the Day: Inspiration From The Times’s ‘It’s Never Too Late’ Series

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Featured Series: “It’s Never Too Late”

Many of us dream of trying something new, but then somehow fail to get around to it. A new Times series, “It’s Never Too Late,” tells the inspiring stories of people who have decided to switch gears, change their lives and pursue their dreams.

Whether it’s playing the cello, climbing a mountain, learning to ride horseback or recording your first album, these stories are a reminder that you never know what the future holds — but you do have the power to shape it. As Vijaya Srivastava, who learned to swim at 68, put it: “Finally I decided if I don’t try, it’s never going to happen.”

In this lesson, you will learn about people who prove that you can always change your life. In a Going Further activity, you will use some of the Times’s articles as mentor texts to create your own portrait of an older person who tried something new later in their lives. Or, you can make a plan to pursue a dream of your own!

Consider the two sayings:

Which of these sayings do you find more accurate, more true to life?

Turn to a partner and share your thoughts. Then, discuss one or more of the following questions:

  • Are there certain things that are easier or harder to learn, depending on your age?

  • Is there anything that, in your relatively young life, you already feel it’s too late to try?

  • Are there any goals you have that might be better to pursue when you are older?

Choose one of the articles in the “It’s Never Too Late” series to read in its entirety:

Answer the questions below based on the article you read:

1. Which article in the “It’s Never Too Late” series did you select and why? Give a short snapshot of the older person profiled in the piece, including at least two significant biographical details.

2. What was this person’s goal? What obstacles prevented them from pursuing their dream when they were younger? What finally prompted or inspired them to go for it?

3. What did they discover when they achieved their long-sought-after goal — about themselves and about life?

4. What quote, image or detail from the article did you find most surprising, moving or memorable? If you could interview the person profiled in the article, what else would you want to know about them? Why?

5. Return to the warm-up activity: How does reading the article add to or change your perspective on the two sayings? What life lessons and inspiration can you draw from the story? Have you ever had a dream or goal? If so, are you now more inspired to pursue it? How might you do that?

Option 1: Interview an older person

Imagine you have been hired to write the next entry in the “It’s Never Too Late” series. Who would you profile and why? What questions would you ask? How might these experiences inform, engage and inspire readers of The Times?

Do you know any inspiring people who prove it’s never too late to switch gears, change a life and pursue dreams? You can choose to spotlight someone in your own family.

Whomever you choose, follow the formula used in this column. Make sure to include a photo, a brief preface introducing the person (including at least two biographical details about their life before they reached their goal), and an interview excerpt that you feel highlights that person’s achievement, in their own words.

Be sure to do some background research on the person you choose so you can develop a set of interview questions in advance. You can also draw from some of the questions used in the series, such as: Tell me about the life you’d been leading before this change? How did you find the courage and strength to take that initial step? What were the biggest challenges in your journey? What would you tell other people who feel stuck and are looking to make a change?

If you are doing this project as a class, you might bring your stories together when everyone is done and publish them somehow — on a school website, via social media, or by printing them and hanging them in a public place.

Option 2: Pursue a goal you always dreamed of, but never had the courage to try.

“It’s Never Too Late” is the name of the Times series, but why wait until you are much older? Think of a goal — big or small — and go for it now!

Whether it’s learning to swim, playing a new musical instrument or climbing a mountain for the first time, now it’s your turn to learn a new skill, pursue a deferred dream or just try something completely different.

Once you settle on your goal, map it out. How will you start pursuing it now? Where do you hope to end up? What steps will help you get there? Create a path for yourself.

For inspiration, you might use the stories from the series as well as the sage advice of its protagonists, such as the words of 93-year-old Vera Jiji, who took up cello at 62. She urged others: “Don’t say no to yourself.” Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, who at 50 made her literary debut, advised others to “embrace rejection and find your people.” And Rose Young, who learned to ride a horse at 63, said, “Don’t be afraid of embarrassment or opening yourself up to criticism.”

We wish you the best in realizing your goal!


Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.

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