what if there were no tomorrow?
I drove past my childhood home today--hadn't seen it in a while. It looks different but the same. Where there once was no fence dividing the front yard from the side yard, and where my father once built a fence, there's now a wall. Where there was a tree I used to climb and from which hung a tire swing and a rope, there is a different, smaller tree. I imagined going inside but the inside would probably be even more different than the outside. My memory of the place remains intact. That's good enough, I suppose.
My daughter is in a play next week, and this evening she lamented that she's grown close to the other members of the cast and after their string of performances in just over a week she might not see some of them ever again. I thought that was at once a sad fact and a fascinatingly... happy isn't the word, but maybe somehow enlightening. Like a sand mandala or an ice sculpture--it's a form that exists here and now and is that much more powerful and affective because it cannot last.
I thought of my own experience a couple years back, the last bit of my forensics career (as a competitor anyway). I'd been going to tournament after tournament, including a few travel tournaments, with a small circle of friends, nee teammates. We had practiced together, competed together, traveled together, slept together, changed clothes together, drank together, played in the snow together. We had enjoyed a late night at Sonic after our first tournament that year and we found our way to a different Sonic late at night while away for Nationals. It's the kind of thing you might wish would last forever, a day you might wish to repeat. And, I didn't know if I'd see some of these people ever again. It was a transient moment and, dare I say it, a glorious one.
Phil Connors' curse--and his gift--is that every day for him is like this. And, sure, as I liked to point out in many an impromptu speech round, it's all well and good to Phil Connor* a local girl or steal money or go out drinking and driving when there is no tomorrow. I think the harder thing, the human thing, is to live for today when you don't get that repeat...
Day 52 of this project I linked to this video by ZeFrank:
It was in that same entry that I argued that this project was "an exploration of my self" as much as it was "an exploration of a particular film." Maybe it's more so. And, of course, it is also an exploration of all of us, of the human condition, of film, of love, of life.
I suggested that I was "beyond the 'adolescent' phase of the time loop of my life." I said,
I don't have the wherewithal or the audacity to grab the things I want abruptly and claim them an command them to make them mine. I've been hurt enough in my life, often by my own actions more than anyone elses [sic], that I wish I had the infinite loop to get things right today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Or, better yet, yesterday, the day before, the other day. A year ago. Two years ago. Five. Ten.
At the risk of saying too much (for the right reader), I would add last night... talking to someone on which I've got an almost adolescent crush and... not telling her.
And still, I am only bold enough to hint at what I meant. In that entry 151 days ago, I said, "If you sit down and think about your life, you can see the specific turning points where one chapter flipped into the next. Day-to-day, it’s not so obvious. Things just go." But, sometimes, you can see the chapters passing by so exactly, so pointedly, that you must lament. Transient moments like a childhood long ago, a romance long past, a marriage left behind. "One day blurs into the next" most of the time," I said. And, I say it again: one day does blur into the next and sometimes it happens so quickly, faster with each passing day as I age and leave behind more and more of my life. If we are lucky... If I am lucky, certain moments stand out and freeze around me...
Freeze isn't the right word, I suppose. It seems negative. It's more like the good moment embraces you and holds you. It doesn't freeze you, it warms you.
And that is just cheesy enough to be true.
Day 52 again, I wrote:
If we’re lucky, we have good friends, good family, lovers and confidants that make it all go so much more smoothly.
If we’re not, we better take Nietzsche to heart and find a way to come to terms with the negative, with the boring, with the everyday madness the blunts our drive and dissolves our dreams. Because it’s all going to happen again, the next day, the next, the next, forever.
“What if there is no tomorrow,” Phil just asked the guy on the phone. What if there isn’t? Did you do what you wanted to do today? Or, were you putting it off? Did you mean to get to it?
What should you change about your life? More importantly. Why haven’t you already changed it? Why are you not doing the most important things already? Why waste another moment when life is out there waiting for you to burn?“How much time have you already spent worrying instead of doing something that you love?”
That’s the kind of thing you should not be waiting until the end of your life to ask. Ask it now. Answer it now. And, fix the problem. I wish every day for the fortitude to do so. For that strength.
Maybe that’s why I got stuck on that one [Tarot] card. Because I haven’t moved past it yet. I can’t.
Today was a pretty good day. Helped the homeless. Went to school. Substituted a college class. Had a good veggie burger for dinner. Watched some Winter Olympics.
I don’t know what tomorrow will be like.
I ended that Day 52 entry like this:
What if you just had one more day? What would want to do with it? Who would you want to spend the time with?
What are you going to do today?
And, why not something else? Something better. Something you really want to do.
Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to have strength, to trust myself to make moves without overthinking them, to be better, to be happy.
I still don't trust myself enough on certain things, so...
Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to trust myself enough to go after what I want, not that I'm not already happy, but happiness doesn't mean there isn't something else worth having in my life. Or at least doing something toward that end to see if there's something else worth having in my life.
Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to have what I want even if just to discover I didn't need it.