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December 30, 2017

The Worst Day of the Week isn’t Monday.

Most people would say Monday is the worst day of the week.

It represents the greatest length of time between what we want to do and what we have to do. But if you named Monday, or any day that ends in “y,” then you’re wrong.

The worst day, the absolute worst day, is a day that steals our joy, our precious moments, our productivity—even our dreams—and it doesn’t end in a “y.” It ends with a “w.” It’s tomorrow.

Humanity has always had a love affair with tomorrow. And why not? It is a sultry, seductive siren. “Wait for me,” it whispers, “and all your dreams will come true.” The lie is exactly what we want to hear.

But today is right here. It is an opportunity to write the first sentence of your novel, or lay the first brush stroke on the canvas, or tell that special someone how you feel. Today is offering you everything you’ve ever wanted: your ideal figure, time to explore a new hobby, or even just space to savor every last sip of your favorite chai tea. 

Too often we don’t do any of these things—things that should be done, things we want to do. Because, we believe tomorrow when it promises that it will be easier if we just wait one day for the strength, motivation, and conviction.

I have lived for tomorrow most of my life.

When I was 22, I had sex. One time. I have a wonderful son as a result. (Yes, it only takes once, who knew?) So, I had a marriage. Another son. A divorce. All before 30. I took my financial obligations seriously, and spent a couple of decades meeting them…usually with two or more jobs.

Suddenly my todays were filled and tomorrow was my lover, my savior. I had to wait to do things for me, I thought, because tomorrow told me so. A few tomorrows and I could start a business. A few more tomorrows and I could travel. A few more tomorrows and I wouldn’t have to work two jobs and I could write a book, or paint. A few more tomorrows and I would have the energy to get up early and exercise.

Absolutely none of it today. Today, I had to save what little energy I had and numb myself. Numb myself with fantasies, TV, and food. Not healthy food mind you…I’d start that tomorrow.

So, I woke up decades later, and Tomorrow was still a day away, still making the same empty promises. Tomorrow doesn’t just rob us of a day, if you allow it, a lifetime can be lost. But I finally learned I didn’t need to wait. 

I learned that I didn’t need to live in the shadow of excuses and the lies tomorrow fed me that just a little more time, a little more money, waiting for that perfect person, house, job, career, or circumstance would provide the perfect opportunity to begin making a change. I just began—even when I didn’t feel ready or prepared or worthy and pushed through the fear.

Age 38. I wanted to run a marathon but I didn’t run. Oh yeah, and I was 75 lbs over my recommended weight.

If you know anything about running, you’ve heard of “the wall.” It’s the point at which you pretty much run on willpower and no longer have physical strength. It usually hits about mile 23 but not for me. The toughest mile I ran, the one when I had no physical strength at all and only will power was mile one. I don’t mean mile one of the race, no, that was an exhilarating rush. The hardest mile, the worst mile, was the first mile I ran to start my training. I started on a today, when I had the courage to throw off the covers. And, yes, it was difficult to tell my old friend tomorrow to Stick it.

I’ve learned to love today. Today offers sunsets and patterns of colorful leaves swirling magically down a stream. It offers cinnamon in your coffee or a hike in the woods. This past summer, I stopped frozen and entranced by a bird’s feather being carried down the road by dozens of tiny ants that at first seemed invisible. I have no idea what they planned on doing with that feather—I can’t help but imagine upon their victorious return the Queen was like, “Oh no. You take that filthy thing out of here.” But, if I hadn’t stopped and enjoyed that moment, I would have missed out on the smiles that memory will give me the rest of my life.

Today is waiting with an unlimited number of moments to give joy in small victories like feathers, and in large victories like climbing a mountain. Not long ago, on a bright today, I started the training that lead to, a year later, climbing 19,341 feet to the highest peak in Africa.

Okay, I haven’t written that book yet, but I’ve started it. And I paint now. Sounds like I’ve got it all together? Ha. I’m still fighting tomorrow’s biggest lie. “I’m not enough. But, tomorrow I will be, if I just wait.” Did I believe that ridiculous lie? Sadly I did.

So is living for today just as easy as Nike says? Just do it? It kinda is. But here is something that helped me. Start so small that tomorrow has no power. I still heard tomorrow’s lips whispering, ”It won’t make a difference.” Ha! More lies. You will need to decide what your steps are, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Turn it off for five minutes. No phone. No electronics. See something in your world you haven’t seen before. Your observation will deliver you a significant moment, and more than likely you will hear the world talking to you. 
  • Write a single sentence (or the equivalent). No expectations. Purposefully avoid the opening line to your book, story, article. Start someplace that isn’t so scary. Nobody but tomorrow cares where you start. It only matters that you do.
  • Add, don’t subtract. Whatever you do, do not try to begin by subtracting something you love. Instead, start small and simply add an activity that is healthy and positive. I began dieting by adding a salad to each dinner. I didn’t worry about what I couldn’t have. That eventually took care of itself.

These steps will take you to your love of today. Here’s the surprise: today is a soft spoken, unpretentious, frickin’ superhero that is more powerful than I ever imagined. All you really have to do is give it a chance to shine.

~

Author: Greg Simmons
Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram
Apprentice Editor: Morgan Rhodes
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Callie Rushton

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