One day at a time…

June 27, 2014

“Count each separate day as a separate life.”  (Seneca), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

It actually should be easy for us to do this, if only we didn’t have the tendency to carry over yesterday’s issues and problems. Life is more like a serial TV drama or the old cliff-hanger serial movies for many of us. Yet if you start each day with the attitude that this day IS your life, maybe you’d be more inclined to live it more fully, love those around you more fervently and enjoy just being alive more freely.

I think there are insects that basically have a one-day lifespan. There entire life is lived out in that day, so it is a frenzy of activities, including mating and laying the eggs for the next one-day generation to come. I suppose that we shouldn’t live each day like that, but if you appreciate and treat each day as if it was your last day on earth, perhaps you would be better able to appreciate the things and people around you and not dwell so much on negative things.

man daydreamingI wouldn’t recommend spending too much time daydreaming about what you might do if you knew that each day might be your last; that, after all would be wasting the precious time of that day. Rather, start each day with the mindset of meeting new people, making new friends, helping new people, dong new things, taking in new sights and sounds and flavors, learning new things – essentially being alive and being more aware of it. Many of us don’t start each day that way and wander through the day like zombies – animated but not really alive.

I’m reminded by this saying of the movie “Groundhog Day” in which Bill Murray is stuck in a cycle of each day being a repeat of the same day – Groundhog Day. In that movie, Murray’s character becomes aware of the situation and uses the constantly repeating day to train himself in medicine and on how to play the piano and other thins that he would not otherwise be able to do. While it is impossible to get as much done as he did by repeating the same day over and over, it is possible to learn something each day, to do something each day to be a better person, to help someone or to make progress on something like learning to play the piano. Like Murray’s character, you need to be aware of what you can do and set out to do it.

So today is today. Yesterday is in the past and worrying about tomorrow accomplishes nothing happy dogtoday. Put your focus upon living today like it is your life, because for all you know, it is. I start out each morning with a ritual that involves my dog Sadie. She jumps up on the bed and we celebrate the fact that it’s a new day and we both woke up this morning. The celebration involves a lot of petting of Sadie, which starts her day off right and there is little better way to start my day that getting some of the unconditional love that a dog can share, even if it does involve a lot of licking.

I’d love to stay and chat some more but I’ve got a life to live today. I’ve enjoyed this time that we spent together, but now I have things to do, people to meet and places to go – a life to live.

Reflections about life…

March 8, 2014

I came across two quotes that I really like because they focus upon a couple of aspects of life that we need to understand or at least acknowledge. The first saying deals with the need to think about things and plan a bit in life –

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser – John W. Gardner

At its most basic level this little quote is saying that in life we get no “do-overs”, there is no eraser; no ability to say “Ooppsie, can I do that again?” I thought almost immediately about a toy from my childhood that is still popular today – the Etch-A-Sketch. What a fun, and at the same time frustrating, toy that was. You could make really neat drawing on one, draw anything really; however, you absolutely had to really think it out and plan it out ahead of time, because there was no way to pick up the etching stylus inside and move it to a new location. It would be like putting your pencil on the paper and not being allowed to lift it again until the drawing is done. You can now get Etch-A-Sketch as a free app for your smartphone, if you’re up to dealing with a lot of frustration, give it a try. And as inspiration for what can be done without an eraser, click here to see a gallery of Etch-A-Sketch art or here to watch a YouTube video of an Etch-A-Sketch in action, albeit in the hands of a very patient artist.

When you think about it life is like that. Time is our stylus (or pencil) and we don’t get to stop time and go back or erase what we’ve done, if we’ve drawn ourselves into a corner. Our pencils are on the paper, so to speak and we can only move forward through time with the drawings that are our lives.

The other saying that seemed to fit is this one that is also about time –

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards – Doren Kierkegaard

Our lives are often analyzed by looking back over events or decisions; it’s sort of like the stock market where everyone’s an expert on what happened yesterday and no one has a clue what will happen tomorrow. Actually the expert opinion about what caused the rise or dip in the market yesterday is subject to widely different interpretations; so there really aren’t any experts on that either.

What we strive to do sometimes is to look back at situations and reflect on our own actions. Why did we do that? What did we say that? What was I thinking? Reflections like that on the past help us organize and archive or experiences and thoughts about them into our knowledge base and eventually jell into what we call wisdom. Of course, by the time many of us become wise, the thing that we are wisest about may well be how differently things might have been had we only known then. There is a thin line sometimes between wisdom and regret.

I think one take-away from combining the thoughts from those two quotes is that you need to think things out before you draw a mistake into your life and that one way to help with that is to reflect upon, learn from the past and build your storehouse of wisdom; however, you cannot spend all of your time reflecting upon the past nor planning for the future; you have a today to live, so get on with it.