Live The Gift Of Today With Passion And Clarity
Written By: Mark Smith
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"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That is why we call it the present." ~Babatunde Olatunji
When I was in Bible School I had a professor whose favorite saying was "I was down so I went and preached myself happy." As I rumbled on the Harley to my writing studio on the river I had no clue what to write about today. So I made coffee, played my guitar, returned e-mails, shuffled papers and generally piddled most of the morning away. My moping reached a low point as I e-mailed a friend complaining about all the sleep I lost the last few nights fantasizing and day dreaming about both the past and the future. Then the topic for my column this week jumped up and smacked me in the face. So, here it is: I hope that my rambling efforts to preach myself happy result in you finding some happy making thoughts as well.
In March of 1977 my beloved Kokomo Wildcats beat Anderson in the afternoon game of the Anderson regional. I had my best game of the year and I was fired up to get after those rich, spoiled nothing but football players from Carmel in the championship game. Coach Carl sat me for most of the game though and we lost by 7 points. When I was in the game I gave Mark Hermann a long jumper - I didn't think that he could shoot but he could. It turned out that those guys weren't just football players. As I was sitting on the bench I was very tempted to brashly guarantee Coach Carl a victory if he would just let me back in the damn game. We were flat and tired from the afternoon game and it was clear that we were going to lose. I've re-played the great comeback I would have led a thousand times if he had put me in. But I stayed quiet, mainly because frankly Coach Carl scared the crap out of me. Carmel went on to win the state championship that year and I've been living too much in the past ever since.
The other night I got stuck on how cool it would be to be able to go back and get a "do-over" starting on my 16th birthday. Am I the only one who has ever thought that? Boy, if I knew then what I know now - the girls I would have dated, the games I would have won, the money I would have made, the mistakes I would have avoided, the people that I could have helped and the roses that I could have smelled along the way! It kept me up for several hours though and I was exhausted all day on Memorial Day. My exhaustion might have had something to do with my nephew and my son whipping my brother and I for the very first time in game 7 of a hard fought real life driveway basketball series.
The next night I left the past but then got stuck in the future. It's really embarrassing to admit, but I spent another couple of wasted hours day dreaming about becoming a rich and famous writer. Oprah loved me and that was that. I pictured myself writing for a few hours a day in my mansion on the ocean - a wise, wealthy and respected gentleman writer. What are the words to the old song, "only trouble is, gee whiz, I'm dreaming my life away". I dragged all through the next day with one uninspired therapy session after another. I even had to cancel a presentation to my staff about poetry and therapy because I simply didn't have the energy to do it. I missed some great moments in the present because I got lost in the future.
"Normal day let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so." ~Mary Jean Iron
Try to do as I say, not as I did this past week. Embrace your present. Today is a gift. It is all that is truly real. It all that you have. Go at it with all the heart and gusto that you can muster. If you do that your future will be brighter than you can imagine and you will have very few regrets about your past. Ok, I've went and preached myself happy. I hope you got a little bit happy too. Until next week.
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