(CCSLQ-7) Never Too Old

This is part of an occasional series (currently it’s weekly) exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 

Never Too Old

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

If you happen to be facing fewer years ahead of you than are behind you (like myself), than you likely wish the above statement is correct. While many hope such a proclamation is true, falsely attributing it to Lewis doesn’t make it any more accurate, but some find it more believable if a person as famous as Lewis stated it.

Growing up in the 1970’s I recall hearing something similar to this quotation in relation to the fact that Kentucky Fried Chicken is a franchise that didn’t start until Colonel Sanders was in his 60’s. A notion like this can be great motivation to those wanting to find success later in life.

When exploring the actual source for this quotation I found it on a website by Les Brown, a motivational speaker that credits him as the creator of the quote. It is found on his site that lists several of his own quotations that is part of his “About Les” section. There is also a YouTube video that was posted 8/29/2012 by Les Brown where he shares the quote and he doesn’t give credit to anyone else for it.

While Lewis believed in encouraging others his published writings do not contain any statement similar to this. His general style of writing is very different than this cliché-like expression. Also, there is very little reason Lewis would have said it. A possible reason we may think Lewis said it, or something very close, is because he was over 50 years old when the first Narnia story was published. Yet, he was already an accomplished writer by this time. Prior to Narnia, Lewis was famous because of The Screwtape Letters that came out as a book in 1942 and it was chiefly this that led to him being on the cover of Time in 1947, well before Narnia was published!

WHAT LEWIS SAID THAT’S RELATED (or closest to it):

“When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.”
from The Problem of Pain, chapter 3

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“Progress means getting nearer to a desired goal and therefore means not being there already. You don’t want the London train to go on progressing after it reached London!”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 2 (to Mr. Lyell on 12/6/1944)

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“Once a dream has become a fact I suppose it loses something. This isn’t affectation: we long & long for a thing and when it comes it turns out to be just a pleasant incident, very much like others.”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1 (to Arthur Greeves on 11/2/1918)

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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.”
from The Screwtape Letters, #29 


The next quote examined is:

“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”


Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 10/24/2015