… Muppet Christmas Carol: the fact that Ebenezer is an old man.
Ebenezer Scrooge is visited on Christmas Eve by three spirits who show him the error of his ways – they show him the sadnesses of his childhood and his first (and only) love, they show him the hardship of others around him who could benefit so completely with even a fraction of Ebenezer’s wealth, and they show him that he will die alone with no one to mourn him if he continues on his current path. In a matter of a few hours, he is allowed to see himself from a different perspective, and when he is returned to his own bedchamber, he is overjoyed to learn that it is still the same day – Christmas day – and that he has an excellent chance to redeem himself and bring comfort to his fellow man.
He becomes the best employer and the best landlord, he reconnects with his family, and he works the rest of his life to be a positive force in the lives of everyone he meets.
But he doesn’t start until he’s already old.
He’s faced with the daunting tasks of accepting everything he’s ever done, and of learning a new way of thinking and living after so many years doing it badly … and he tackles those tasks with bravery and determination.
But out here in the real world, we don’t even want to admit to ourselves – let alone others – that we may have been the one responsible for the quarrel, or the improper lane change, or our poor grades, or our health. We certainly aren’t going to admit that we’ve done things that hurt others.
We live in a world where it’s hard to stop eating too many potato chips; it’s incredibly difficult – seemingly impossible – to stop habits of thinking and feeling that go back to our childhoods, perhaps even before our conscious memories. It’s so difficult, in fact, that most people don’t even try. They do their best to put their pasts behind them, and continue forward in a halting, unexamined way that forces them down the same path they were on when they originally made all the mistakes and choices they don’t want to acknowledge.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can live an examined life, even without the intervention of the spirits of Christmas. We are strong enough to face what we’ve done and who we’ve been; we do have time to turn it around, even if it’s at the very, very end of our lives. We don’t have to stumble forward on the same path, no matter how long we’ve been on it. We can make a different choice at any moment, and we can make amends. We can make a difference. We can make a change.
Even if we’re scared. Even if we’re hopeless. Even if we don’t know if we’ve ever done anything right before. Even if we’re “old”.
It’s never too late.