Why is it that so many people “live for today” rather than planning for tomorrow? Why do they live in the past rather than chasing their dreams of a brighter future? What comfort can be taken in things that have already been “said and done” knowing that closing the door to those things not yet imagined only traps us in a world holding no new experiences and having no opportunities to grow? Sadly – particularly to those living within the comfort of their present reality – today will never be tomorrow but it cannot escape becoming yesterday when tomorrow, no longer the future, becomes today.
Many individuals view work as being their “beginning and their end.” While paid activities may not have started as being a reason for living, the daily tasks, responsibilities and accomplishments that we immerse ourselves in can become more important to us than relationships, activities or travel. Work is somehow predictable and rewarding. It provides a venue in which we can excel (or at least contribute) and thrive (or, at a minimum, survive) without unexpected or unanticipated roadblocks altering our paths or activities. Routine can be comforting to many – knowing what to do, what to expect and what to anticipate is somehow reassuring to those seeking the satisfaction of being a contributor (rather than an initiator) and accepted (rather than questioned or feared). Individuals having achieved a measure of success and recognition in their past (athletes, public figures, industrial leaders, politicians) – particularly if they are not motivated to grow beyond the success they once achieved by identifying and developing a different strength or aptitude – are great examples of this sense of acceptance. One of life’ greatest travesties can be seen when an athlete leaves school early for his or her shot at professional sports then has no “fallback career” when the window of opportunity slams shut. These gifted entertainers live for today based on the skills and abilities they nurtured yesterday but often give very little thought about tomorrow (which, unfortunately, becomes today sooner than they could have ever realized).
People once grew for a season, learned for a season, worked for a season then retired to rest for the last season of their lives. During the season of growth, children identified their strengths so they could be developed (and their weaknesses so they could be bolstered or avoided). They sought interests and areas they liked before having to focus upon one or two paths that might ultimately lead to the realization of their dreams. The season of growth was never meant to be lived in – only to be passed through on the road towards the season of learning.
Individuals went to school, work or the military to hone and develop the skills they developed during their youth. The season of learning allowed people to experiment in a “safe environment” before having to utilize their abilities to earn a living or support a family. Socialization, the widening and paving of paths discovered as a child and the crystallization of goals came together to help individuals spring from their “today” as they ventured into tomorrow – to build careers, become successful and “make their mark on the world.” Though some might hold onto this season by augmenting their experience with lifelong learning, many built their castles upon the foundation of learning as they sought the security of a season of work.
Work, a season starting as a necessary means to accomplish a desired end, has been fed by ambition and nurtured by a sense of comparison to others (rather than a measure of what each individual might be able to contribute and accomplish individually). The season of work has provided wealth, growth, sustenance, recognition and success for many – allowing individuals to identify areas in which the strengths identified as children and nurtured through learning are able to be applied to give them internal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. These achievers rarely feel they are working in this season as they love what they do and either plan for a season of rest OR intentionally seek to avoid ever tasting such a time. Others have found work to be a “necessary evil” rather than an enjoyable release. They seek an escape from their season of work rather than an elevation into more responsible and rewarding levels. They often perform as they are told (rather than fully utilizing their skill sets) and do what needs to be done (rather than what COULD be done). Regardless of an individual’s perspective, the season of work eventually comes to an end so that we can enter the season of rest (either with open arms or with trepidation).
If an individual has successfully “lived for tomorrow” rather than being content with today – has moved from their past by developing their strengths to make a difference in whatever was accomplished – each day in the season of rest may become but a step of the ladder as one continues to climb towards their future. An individual who was content with “today” during his or her season of work may find themselves living in yesterday’s world rather than identifying and reaching future goals. The season of rest may become one of disenchantment – wishing for something that was never to be since no planning was ever done to make it a reality.
Though today cannot become tomorrow, yesterday will never be forgotten if we build upon the skills identified in our youth to enhance our abilities as we learn that can be applied as we work so that we can rest having made a difference to all around us.
“Live for Today?” I think not…for tomorrow will soon come and I will dwell but for a moment within each passing day as I move constantly from yesterday towards a not-yet-realized future…