Tomorrow, Tomorrow its only a day away...
But it's not. Tomorrow is an eternity away. In fact, you and I will never see tomorrow. It is as elusive as finding the end of a rainbow because it simply does not exist. Truth be told neither does yesterday the day before or even five minutes ago. There is only the now.
This moment, this instance, this fleeting millisecond and then, poof, gone.
Most of us, including myself, preoccupy ourselves with one of two false realities, the past or the future. I have worked intimately with people for almost two decades. I have heard their stories, their hopes, dreams and their pain. I have sat with people whose past haunts them like a specter roaming from room to room inside their heads never resting, always searching, longing for resolution. Resolution nowhere to be found. Others, while rarer, fancy themselves in a distant time and place where their longings, fears, and dreams are finally satiated. The dream of themselves crossing a proverbial finish line, finally reaching a place of satisfaction, of happiness and joy. Finally. There is always the sense, "if I can just cross this canyon, just reach this summit, just.... and the thing after "just" never seems to come.
I find myself obsessing over the negative aspects of the future, what could happen, what might happen, what I feel is absolutely inevitable. Most of the time my anticipation is far worse than any reality that comes my way. In fact, I really cannot remember a time when my fearful foreboding every played out as badly as I imagined it. Maybe that is part of my self-defense mechanism. No matter the reason the only thing it gives me is a soured stomach, lost time and stress so painful I live in more misery leading up to the thing than the actual thing causes.
The only time is now. Ok, I get it. That sounds more like a sports drink, or shoe brand slogan than a profound truth, but hear me out. We cannot do anything about the past, it is done, finished. No amount of remorse, fretting, sadness or regret will change it. It is, or actually, it was. Right now is the only thing that is. We equally cannot guarantee anything about the future, no amount of planning, work, or forethought can determine absolutely the events and potentialities to come. I really like what Jesus, in the New Testament book of Matthew, says about the future, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today." I used to think about this as a verse about faith, believing that God would take care of you in the future. I have found a different, more practical and for me, more profound interpretation. Do not worry about something that will never come, the only thing you need to think about is today, right here, right now. Make this moment count, take care of the things that are in front of you, and in the next moment do the same thing and the same, again and again.
It makes me think of one of my favorite Taoist stories about an old farmer:
There was an old man with a small farm in China many years ago. He had one son, who did most of the work on the farm and a neighbor, himself old with a son.One day the old man’s horse ran off, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how terrible, your horse has run off, now work on your farm will be so difficult.” To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”
The next day the old man’s horse returned leading a group of wild horses, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how wonderful! You have many horses, now you have great wealth and may live easily.” To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”
The next day the old man’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how terrible, your son has broken his leg, now your work will be doubled as nurse and farmer.” To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”
The next day the king’s men came to the farms seeking all able men to fight a distant battle, and the neighbor, sobbing as his son marched off, said “how fortunate you are for having an injured son, mine will surely perish.” To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”
It is so easy to live in anything but the moment, to constantly dwell on the past or to obsess for the future and all of the while missing the only thing that matters, the present.
"This Good Life" Resources
Ask this question frequently: "What is my relationship with the present moment?"
Quote: When you look upon what you do or where you are as the main purpose of your life, you negate time. -Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth - An incredible book that challenges our senses, not about what matters but of when matters.
Practice: When you find yourself thinking about the future or the past: Stop. Bring yourself back to this moment. Ask: What am I doing now? What am I missing out on at this present moment? How can I be in this moment that reflects those hopes and desires for the future?