The Thing I Like About …

Willow: the part where Willow turns Raziel back into a human, and she realizes she’s old now.

Raziel is an enchanted sorcerer, turned into a muskrat by an evil opponent, who explains that if Willow – a sorcery novice – turns her back into a human, she – a young and beautiful woman – will be able to stop the bad guys with her magic. Willow, after a few false starts, does manage to turn her back into a human … and she looks at her white hair and wrinkled skin and discovers that she’s not young anymore.

She’s not young at all.

She sits, and stares at her hands, and she asks in disbelief, “Has it been so long?”

Willow tells her he’s sorry. He can imagine how horrible it must feel to have spent so many long years as a muskrat, and how devastating it must be for her to know that she’ll never be young again, or live the life she had meant to. Whatever dreams she had for her youth or her middle-age have all been rendered moot. Her future is suddenly shorter, her past wasted. The people she knew before the enchantment have all gone on with their lives, and are gone from her now. Her parents are no doubt dead. She has nothing now except Willow and his friends, and her service against the forces of evil; whatever awaits her after her service is done is a mystery tinged with unmitigated loss and grief. When faced with such a realization, with such a dreadful reality, with the incontrovertibility of dozens of years unlived, how will Raziel react? How will she face what has happened? How will she proceed?

She sighs, and says determinedly, “Willow, we have work to do.” And she and Willow get to work on their plan to outwit evil.

Behind each of us is the wake of all our time on this planet; we can look at it and see all the regrets, the missed opportunities, the wasted time, the loss and struggle and pain. The wasted time.

The wasted time.

We’re left now with whatever we’re left with. We have to go forward knowing that what lies behind us grows longer and longer every day, and that we can’t go back again to any of it except in our memories. As our skins wrinkle and our hair turns white, we’re faced with a shorter and shorter future. The older we get, the shorter the future, and the longer the following road paved with all the things we didn’t get around to. We can wallow in grief and loss; it would certainly be understandable. We can allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of all the missteps and sadnesses and lost time … or we can decide to learn from it all instead.

We can decide not to waste any more time.

Don’t wind down. Don’t wait for the end. Don’t spend your life as a muskrat, and your old age as a bitter person pining for yesterday. If the road behind you is filled with wasted time and undiscovered dreams, don’t sit and be sad about it. Get up. Sigh, if it helps you. Square your shoulders, and say out loud, “We have work to do.”

And get on with your life.

It’s not too late.

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