It’s easy to be seduced by the idea of “later”:

  • I’ll do that later.
  • I’ll fix that up later.
  • It’ll have to wait until later.
  • I’ll have time for that later.

(I think I’m slightly addicted to it, myself…)

And the thing with this “later” business is that you have to believe that there always will be a later. That maybe you get some kind of say in how much “later” there’ll be (a lot, thank you). That your time – your life – can be controlled, planned, predicted.

Yet, existentially, none of us can really do that.

For the end of our days – the end of all our “laters” – will come when it comes, and however much we procrastinate, it seems that’s something that just won’t be put off. One day, it will simply be too late for your “laters”…

So then what?

Where does that leave you with “later”?

(And where does it leave you with now?)

It’s an eerie thing to contemplate in a way: life; death. To really look it in the eye, instead of looking away and pretending that it, too, will only ever come “later”. (And that somehow we can ensure that that particular later is a long way off.)

Working with people who have chronic and serious illness (cancer) is a wake-up call for me like that. For many are living an alternative to our society’s collective delusion of “later.” Instead, some of them are moving consciously towards the horizon of their lives – knowingly towards their death. Towards a time when “later” won’t be waiting anymore.

They seem vibrantly connected to “now”…

And, as all those new-agey sayings suggest, perhaps all we have is now. All any of us can know is ours is now. All that we can truly live in is now. The place our action and volition reside; now.

Perhaps you could even say:

“now is later”*

So, in light of all that, is there anything important that you want to do or say or experience or be that you’re pushing out beyond that point?

What would it mean for you if that particular later never came? If you never actually reached it?

(Or would you rather think about that a bit “later”?)


*Quote from a TV series called “Hoarders
Photo and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.



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    Last reviewed: 27 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Living Before It’s All Too Late(r): Life, Death And The Power Of Now. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from


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