If you’re anything like me, the prospect of a Friday brings you far greater joy than does the mere mention of Sunday. While the calendar will tell you that it’s the seventh day of the week, majority of us can agree that it has ceased to exist as a solitary day and morphed into the dreaded “day before Monday” syndrome.
Come to think of it, there’s Monday, the day you promised yourself you would do something differently (and didn’t), Wednesday, characterized by the almost-Friday, thankfully-not-Monday phenomenon and Friday, the only day besides your birthday that brings instant joy. [Let’s conveniently omit Saturdays because those pass by faster than most episodes on Netflix] Yet, what is it about Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays that make it so undeserving of our attention? Are these not days where the sun rises and sets all the same? The funny thing is, people often tell us to live in the moment, yet we can’t even seem to live out a single day before anticipating the next.
The rest is still unwritten...
When you look out of the window of a car, do you observe the reflection that greets you or the sights that zoom past? Our eyes seldom rest on things outside of ourselves, for most of us either scrutinize the reflection that stares back or revisit the moments that cloud the present. The past, neatly folded into the pages of our memory books, is often held onto ever so dearly. We re-read the dried ink of the past, memorizing its lines in the present. We defy time and will it to live on, flooding the present moment with the burdens of the past. In filling our hands with these pages coupled with the uncertainty of the pages still unwritten (the future), we fatigue our muscles long before we can exhale into the present moment. We live somewhere between the past and the future yet never quite in the now.
The sands of time
If change is a constant, we act more like cubes with rigid surfaces and angular edges than we do like water, compliant and willing to fill any container it’s placed in. In the sands of time, you and I merely represent a solitary grain, yet we take our things more seriously than we do ourselves. At the end of our lives, I’m certain we won’t remember how the sole of our favorite pair of heels was the brightest shade of red, but what we will remember is the breathtaking hues of every sunset ever witnessed.
We seldom acknowledge our mortality until certain life changing moments, for better or for worse, jolt us into the present. If you have ever been behind the wheel, you’re well aware of that all too lucid moment when you’re seconds away from averting an accident or drive past a visibly reckless driver. That moment of unadulterated vigilance is what it’s like to live in the present moment.
The circle of life
The problem in existing within this very moment stems less from our inability to control our circumstances and more from our responses to them. Majority of us behave as though we were paid to exist, conducting life in the most passive manner. We act as though life happens to us but often forget that with a functional body and mind, little is out of our reach.
Humans are amusing creatures; we delay our happiness by making today contingent on tomorrow’s successes and failures. We place conditions on our own happiness, thinking “I’ll be happy when I make X amount of money” or “I’ll be happy when I purchase my dream house”, etc. Although we’re landlords of our own bodies, we act as tenants when it comes to nourishing the soul. If the first breath we inhale represents birth and our last exhale represents death, the circle of life can be represented by the transition of breath becoming air. We’re surely granted the pursuit of happiness but we seemingly only pursue it in the now so we may experience it at a later time. The present moment, albeit fleeting, does not require perusal. What is does require is attention. Seek that which makes you happy. Feel it now. Little did we know the only invisible cloak we ever needed was that of happiness!
If life were quantified in moments, majority of us have never lived past the first few years, for we're either living in the past or worrying about the future. Several years into the future, if someone were to ascribe your tombstone with a quote representative of your life, what would it read? Would it speak of your wardrobe or how you clothed yourself in compassion and empathy? Would it list the properties that you owned or reflect the home you made for yourself in the hearts of those whom you loved the most?
So live for today, not Friday or the future, for every day that we outlive is a testament to our lives.