Sadly, a friend of mine recently passed away very unexpectedly. The shock and grief led me to reflect upon many things, including what and who I take for granted in my own life. So, as a result of this thinking, I want to talk to you today about an idea I call the illusion of tomorrow.
The illusion of tomorrow is the concept that tomorrow never tangibly exists. If you’ve ever read or heard about Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, you might be familiar with this concept. Tomorrow is constantly in the future and we are forever in pursuit of it. In reality, we only ever have today; each day, tomorrow becomes our new today and with it comes a new tomorrow. As Sam Harris puts it, “it is always now”; life is an organised collection of present moments.
Now, I understand that this may sound confusing, unimportant or both, but there is a subtle significance to understanding this which I believe is quite important to our perspective.
Before moving forward with this, I want to clarify a few things:
- Living presently does not mean disregarding preparation for the future.
It means being conscious of the reality that the moment you have now is unique and will never be repeated in these exact circumstances. It’s up to you to enjoy it, maximise it, and cherish it. Equally, an undesirable moment will also pass – this too is only temporary.
- Living presently does not mean that the past is unimportant.
It means that you are aware that the past has been a collection of choices, circumstances and actions that have led you to the moment that exists in the present.
- Living presently does not mean that there is not a consequence of your current actions.
The future is coming and the future will become your present. Whether you believe in absolute fate or free will, you should act accordingly.
So, returning to the main point of this, I think what has been on my mind the most is the impact of loss. Having lived through the death of three grandparents and two friends so far, I can say that death has been a cruel reminder to cherish the people in your life and to be grateful; grateful for who you are, for who you have and for what you have. Often, we naturally become so engrossed in our own lives and preparing for what’s to come that we forget to sometimes stop, breathe and appreciate the present moment. We naturally become so consumed in our own narrative that we unintentionally neglect our parents, our friends and our partners. We hear others wish that they had spent more time with their parents or cherished the last moments that they had with their grandparents. It is in the wake of someone’s death or diagnosed illness, we realise how much time we have wasted. We realise how much attention we gave to unimportant matters. As much as we are aware of the inevitability of death, we naturally put it to the back of our minds. We live as though we will exist forever and as though our loved ones will too.
Don’t get me wrong – this is completely normal. We have our own lives to live and in this era especially, we tend to live fast-paced and semi-digital lifestyles. What I am saying, however, is that every so often it’s worth pausing and reflecting for a moment; you’d be amazed at how much of a positive impact this regular checkpoint can have not just on your own headspace, but also for others around you. Gratitude is powerful – it leads to positivity. Positivity can lead to more happiness; a more positive mood inevitably has a beneficial impact on your mental and physical wellbeing, productivity and your relationships.
As you’re reading this, I’d like you to think about the people that are in your life and the people that you miss. The unfortunate reality is that you never know when you’ve had the last opportunity to see someone, create a new memory with them or share your last conversation. Sometimes, life gets in the way of these connections; work, commitments, distance, family politics and sadly even death are just some of the reasons why you might not have someone in your life anymore. Aside from death, you have the power to maintain the bonds that you do have and, in most cases, you have the opportunity to rebuild any connections that you might have lost. You never know who might be leaving or re-entering your life.
So please, I ask that you take a moment to check in on your family or friends today. A simple “how are you?” message, a dinner with your parents, a catch up with an old friend or some uninterrupted time with your partner can go a very long way for that person and for you too. Just five minutes of your time can make someone’s entire day without you even realising it.
And remember; don’t delay until tomorrow what is worth doing today.
Dedicated to Brian, rest in peace brother.