Almost every day I hear someone say it. The words often come out differently but the message stays consistent regardless of who’s speaking. They were once words of wisdom, words that gave perspective and guided our hands to mold a life of meaning, but the definition seems to have been lost by those in our society. All we have now is a phrase that provides excuses rather than appreciation for ourselves and those around us.
Last week, a Christian conspiracy theorist named David Meade predicted an invisible planet–Nibiru–was supposed to crash into earth, setting off the chain of events that would lead to Armageddon and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, the prediction was either inaccurate, nonsense, or the planet simply missed us and we are free to continue living our lives…for now.
I must admit a part of me wanted him to be right. It was the part that’s tired of watching humans treating other humans as subspecies. It’s the part that has grown weary of witnessing the mass hysteria that accompanies natural disasters, only to see interest and empathy deplete to nearly nonexistent a week later. It’s the part of me that is sick of people exploding over trivial social matters, such as a person kneeling, when there are far more important issues to confront (like the reason people are kneeling in the first place). And it’s the part of me that still clings to the idea that there’s an existential reason for all the suffering we endure.
The rest of me was relieved Meade’s prediction was false. In the time leading to the moment of our foretold doom, I recanted a variation of the words that have lost their meaning:
What if I die tomorrow?
It did not take a potential apocalypse for me to consider the reality that tomorrow is not promised. Mini-apocalypses occur each day and time will determine when one comes for me, but there was another reality I had to face when considering the meaning of that question.
People constantly tell us we should live like there’s no tomorrow, but can we? On principle, the phrase reminds us of our mortality and to appreciate what time we have. Our society has muddied those principles by using the phrase as an excuse to make decisions that could poorly impact the future (if there were no future, it wouldn’t matter). How many times have you gone out to eat, guiltily craved an item that’s bad for your body, only to have a friend remind you that your life could end tomorrow so you order the item in spite of your conscience?
There have been plenty of times when I’ve done that too; more times than I care to admit. I’ve also used the same justification to purchase items I don’t really need, potentially ruining my financial future.
In truth, we can die tomorrow (perhaps that burger I had was my last), but the other question we must ask ourselves is:
What if we don’t?
If I was somehow guaranteed to die tomorrow, I would not have spent this day doing any of the things I’ve done. I definitely wouldn’t have woken up so early, or come to work, or bother putting pants on. I would’ve attempted to get as much done as possible and try some things without worrying about the consequences before saying goodbye to my loved ones.
Which brings me to my point. We live our lives in preparation for tomorrow without any guarantee for it, but cannot live for today because of the possibility the sun will rise for us on the next. Instead of using the phrase as an excuse to make foolhardy decisions, we have to steer it back to its original intent: appreciate the significance of what we have, which will make this whole life experience more enjoyable.
There is no guaranteed answer for either of the questions I’ve asked. What we must do is live in moderation in regards to both. We must plan enough to have a future, but not too much where we ignore enjoying our present. In turn, we must enjoy enough of the present to consider our lives lived in full, but leave enough so the future can also be lived comfortably.
What would you do if today was truly your last?
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