How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. – Annie Dillard
I have to wonder what my parents must have thought when, as a five-year-old, I arrived home and allegedly told them I wanted to be a garbage collector when I grew up.
While that particular phase didn’t last very long, I do remember a recurring pattern of responses I’d get from adults. I’d answer the ‘So, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ question, and then I’d hear this:
Ahh, well, don’t worry — you have plenty of time to figure it out.
Hah. Now in my 30’s, I don’t tend to get that response very often (read: ever), even though I still feel like I’m figuring it out. Isn’t it amusing how, once adults, we tend to focus on who people are going to be and not who they are? As if who young people aspire to be is more important than who they are in that moment. I’m certain that children would not ask each other this question were it never uttered from a grown-up’s mouth.
I can’t help but audibly sigh when I hear college students talk about the real world. As in, “I have a few more months until I graduate and enter the real world”. As if deciding to go to university suddenly puts real life on pause for four years. The friendships, the debt, the experiences, the opportunities? You are in the real world, kid.
The reality is we are in the real world every single day of our lives.
Every single moment that passes—I mean, this is it folks. The day we spend 16 hours at the office, the weekend we spend on Netflix, the two hours that we fritter away checking our phone 37 times.
Today defines us, today is who we are.
We cannot count on the person that we will someday be.
I’m nowhere near as physically fit as two-years-ago me thought today me would be. I’d always think, “Well, I can just work out consistently and get my cardio in check. I’ve been in really great shape in the past, so I should be able to do it again pretty easily.”
If turning 30 has taught me anything, it’s that someday does not exist.
There are seven days in the week and someday isn’t one of them.
What about my accomplishments of years past? I was a varsity rower as a high school junior, I biked up to 60 miles at a time last summer.
The glaring question we face after rolling out of bed and looking ourselves in the mirror is this:
So what have you done for me lately? As in, today.
It may seem depressing to lose a lifetime of accomplishments to the past. Perhaps difficult to come to terms with the reality of a future self that never quite arrived. As heavy as that may seem, there is great beauty in it all.
Our past experiences, loves, friendships, wins and losses, while they are gone, they have molded who we are in this very moment. The good and the bad, all a part of our present selves. The beautiful thing about life is that we get to take that collective experience and do the damn best we can today. How amazing is that?
Every day we have an opportunity to be present, truly think about what matters most to us, and live that reality.
We can be the person that wakes up early to start the day with meditation, whether we were that person yesterday or not. Is it not amazing to know that we have the power to control the present and be whoever it is that we desire to be?
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So what can we do?
Let’s remove the word ‘aspiring’ from our titles. I give you permission to no longer be an aspiring minimalist, and you should give yourself permission to do the same. We are beings in constant state of development and growth, and that should always continue. Let go of your expectations and give yourself the title you deserve each day. Let’s throw out the word ‘going to’ and just be it. Changing our language can be powerful.
I’m going to go work out today — vs — I’m working out today.
I’m going to start decluttering today — vs — I’m decluttering today.
Our lives are a collection of bricks. Each day adds a brick to the wall, and each day is a new opportunity to build a strong, square, level brick. Let’s not worry about tomorrow’s brick, we have no control over it. We cannot go back and fix yesterday’s brick, so let’s learn from our mistakes and do our best to make a better brick today. No matter when you’re reading this post, you can make a badass brick to the best of your abilities right now.
We can love ourselves, love our friends, our families, and put positivity out into the world. Every day is an opportunity to be a living example of the world you want to live in. Failure makes us stronger, provides learning opportunities and today we get to take all that and start anew. Remember that the master has failed more times than the amateur has even tried. If we are not failing, we’re not growing—love it for all that it gives us.