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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Tomorrow


What a lovely and insidious word, tomorrow. It holds the promise of an unopened present while tempting us with avoidance. Whatever we don’t wish to do can always be done tomorrow. Of course, we accept as a given that tomorrow will come and that we will be here to experience it, though we know we have absolutely no control over that prospect. Tomorrow is not an eventuality, it is an aspiration.

Tomorrow is the future, ripe with potential and tomorrow is a day of reckoning when we reap the actions of our past. I could go on but you’d grow tired of this litany in short order. I know the point is not lost on you, tomorrow is a phantom, it does not really exist. Our faith in tomorrow, however, is a thief that steals from today.

If we are unhappy with our lives, depressed about the events of the day that stretches before us, there is always tomorrow to set it right, but when a deadline looms, tomorrow is not our friend. This is not an epistle on making the most of today, however much that may be true. Rather, it is about our human tendency to invest hope in what has not yet occurred when we are struggling with what is present and in our past. Hope is a powerful tool for coping, I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with hope. But too often we trade affirmation and avoidance for hope.

A few examples may help make the point clearer. Let me start with an easy one. I can always wait till tomorrow to call a friend I know is going through a difficult period in their lives. A call tomorrow will still be welcome, but it will do nothing to brighten that person’s life today. I can hope they have a good day, but I will have done nothing to affirm it.

How about this? I awaken in the morning only to be confronted with depressing news, a series of personal encounters that are unsatisfying and problems at work and home that are seemingly intractable. Ah well, I can hope that tomorrow will be better but that leaves the outcome in someone else’s hands.

Easy stuff, right? Ok, let’s go right to some hard things. I am faced with a moral decision, I know what is right but I am tempted, terribly tempted to give in to impulses and there is every reason to believe that no one will be the wiser. This would be a good time to put things off—don’t you think? Perhaps tomorrow I will feel differently. Of course, there is also a good chance that I will feel the same way tomorrow or have grown even more impulsive, frustrated by delay. Either way, would it have been better to act at once and affirm what I know to be right?

What if I had just left the doctor’s office having learned that I am mortally ill? It doesn’t matter that I’ve been dying since the day I was born, tomorrow is no longer a given. That’s sobering. I can spend my time hoping for tomorrow or live today affirming my feelings for those around me. In case you think I am projecting abstracts, I’ve been witness to this exact circumstance. I cannot say how I would deal with it but I hope it would be with the same courage I’ve seen from those who have had to make this choice.

The truth is that every day we are faced with decisions that turn on questions like these. And every day we have the opportunity to affirm or hope, to act or avoid. What might our world be like if we could all summon the courage to make today the most important day of our lives? How might things change if we stopped thinking about tomorrow and spent our energies on making today better?

I don’t know about you, but I have a call to make.


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