Don’t give up on tomorrow
“Live each day as if it were your last,” has become a common catch phrase that has been oft repeated, oft paraphrased, and oft taken too seriously, in my humble opinion.
Brilliant minds have touted this sentiment, from Marcus Aurelius to Mahatma Gandhi to Steve Jobs. It has even found its way into a song by Ray Charles, ”… live each day like it’s your last, ‘cause one day you gonna be right.”
I am sure that I’m not in the same league as these men, but I do have opinions and will exercise my right to voice them, even if it means that I voice disagreement with the more learned and respected.
I would assume that Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said it first, given that he lived from 121 AD to 180 AD, but I prefer to take this phrase in the context of his entire sentence which reads: Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense. Now if we were to take out the words ‘as if it were your last” that would be much more palatable advice for me. This way, I have hope for tomorrow.
I don’t know about you, but if I tried to cram everything that I wanted to do into one day I could never get to everything, and I would not enjoy anything. My goodness, that would be like packing an under-seat bag with clothes and what-nots for a week’s stay in a place where the weather is changeable.
Consider this: if we lived each day as if it were our second to last, we would always have tomorrow to look forward to, and then we can finish up things that we might not have gotten to today. And then if we still did not finish then we would still have the next tomorrow.
Now consider this scenario: what if a massive amount of people decided to live each day as if it were their last all at once? Seems to me that everyone would rush to their banks to empty their accounts (I remember that scene from It’s a Wonderful Life), they might gorge themselves on last-meal delicacies that would wreak havoc on their hearts, because they would soon have no use for it, and send their blood sugar levels into outer space. They might even give away all their prized possessions since, come midnight, instead of losing their coach and other material trappings, they would lose their lives.
And then, what if they don’t die? What if that was not really their last day? That’s when the real trouble begins. That would be quite a fine mess that they would have gotten themselves into.
I find myself more in league with those who value tomorrow as well as today. Scarlett O’Hara believed in the promise and hope of a new day, “After all, tomorrow is another day” she famously said. But the best advice comes from a little red-headed orphan named Annie:
I love ya tomorrow
You’re always a day away.”
That’s how I want to spend each day. Living a great day today, but still thinking about the possibilities of the next day.