Today is the day.
This simple phrase seems easy to understand. The meaning isn't deeply buried in some secret literary poem requiring a theologist to decode. Yet really taking action toward what we want, seems to be infinitely distant to what we actually do. Now, understandably we all need to be, and should be, responsible, caring, thoughtful, pragmatic, and cause no burden to others, but... why can't we balance both? Living the life you desire and the life you love should not be an occasional feeling you stumble on during an infrequent vacation or the occasional planned holiday.
Learning "carpe diem".
To get an idea of where and how I learned to love my life and really enjoy the things I've come to own, I have to give you some background on my upbringing. I grew up in a lower middle class home with a working mother, my older sister, and my grandmother. My mom was strategic in moving our family to a VERY nice town in Connecticut because she knew the public schools were some of the best in the nation. So we lived in a relatively nice home (At least it looked nice from the outside. Truth is, because of poor construction and costs, it was freezing in the winter and hotter then hell in the summer). The important part is that I was getting a really good education (with some special attention for my LD - another post) and learning what it meant to be responsible for chores, managing food on a tight budget, and learning to be emotionally intelligent in an environment where my friends drove Porsches to school while I took the bus. I didn't realize it at the time, but like every other kid at that age, I was shaping many parts of who I would later become as a young adult and even now as a 'quasi'-adult... Because we didn't have a lot of money AND because the responsibility of owning 'things' was drilled into my head, I learned a habit to fiercely maintain what I had. I remember waiting 2-3 Christmas' to get a "boom-box" stereo. I had asked Santa for it a few times and I'm guessing we just didn't have the money, but when I did get it, I thought to myself, I really need to take care of this thing. Its the last stereo I'll ever get to own in my life! It went on from there to being extremely vigilant with anything I owned. I couldn't stand the thought of losing things and I began a habit of being very organized. This included my time, my clothes, and any other aspect of my life that I felt could be organized and put in 'compartments' for safe keeping. I made to-do lists so as to never forget a chore or project that needed to be completed. As a result I became very responsible. You could count on me to do chores around the house, be places on time, and always give you back anything I borrowed. These are all good traits that were very helpful later in life. But there was an imbalance being groomed...
Fast forward to college. My roommate Carey from James Madison University was the first real exposure to where I had gone astray. Carey was a ridiculously good athlete (wrestler), with an awesome high energy about him. At 116 pounds, this kid could out run you, out jump you, out back-flip you, and pretty much physically and energetically out-pace anyone. He LIVED life to the fullest! He quickly taught me the concept of really using what you have. Stuff breaks, shit gets lost, and in the end, guess what, it's OK. He didn't know it at the time, but he taught me about "carpe diem". Carey came from an environment where he was taught to live life! For him, the most feared thing was to lose the moment. To lose the opportunity of what was possible right in front of you. He was equally neat and clean and had very nice things, but he looked at a clean apartment as a place to throw a party. Where as I looked at a clean apartment as an accomplishment and something to try and maintain, i.e. don't walk on the carpets, don't mess the kitchen up by cooking, etc. I think the point was made clear to me when we were at the gym one day doing some dumbbell exercise and I looked down to see Carey wearing his very expensive, custom engraved Movado watch that his father hadgiven him for graduating high school. I stopped him quickly as I saw the dumbbells crunching down and scrapping against this beautiful watch. "Wait!, Don't you want to take off your watch?" I asked. "It will get ruined." He quickly responded with a chuckle and said, "no, why would I do that? It's my watch, I wear it so I can tell what time it is."
And here in lays the lesson for me. Life (including the material things) can't be saved for later. Life is meant to be lived. It's meant to get messy and things are meant to get lost and broken. Had that been my watch it probably would have been safely lock away in a drawer, never to see the light of day. That way, I would know where it is at all times and it would never get lost, stolen, or broken. But what good is a watch that is locked away, never to be used? Why have it? This goes for our bodies, minds, and spirits as well. Don't keep yourself, or your things, locked away for some future day. Live now. Use what you have. Experience everything you can in the present moment. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. Today is the day.