Today is the best day of my life.
Not because I expect something incredible to happen today, although I’m open to that possibility.
Not because I think today will be significantly better than yesterday, although it certainly could be.
Not even because I feel particularly good today, although I choose to feel good as often as I can.
No, today is my best day because it’s my only day.
Because yesterday, and all the days before it, are gone. Most of them left pleasant memories. Some left uncomfortable memories. Some brought victories, and some brought failures that seemed insurmountable at the time. Most were just days, much like the ones before and after. And all of them are nothing more than memories now. Living there would be like walking backwards–I could see where I’ve been clearly, but I’d be blind to whatever I was approaching until I passed it.
And tomorrow, as much as I hope otherwise, is not guaranteed. It may bring a great victory, or it may bring a bitter disappointment, or it may be just a day–or it may not arrive for me at all. I can plan for it, I should plan for it, at least to make sure my bills are paid and my life insurance is current and everyone who needs to know I love them knows. But I can’t live there, any more than I can live in the past. That would be like walking with my attention fixed on something a hundred yards ahead; my goal would be clear, but the hole in the pavement in front of me and the wildflowers along the roadside would go unnoticed.
So the question I must answer is this: what will I do with today?
The answer could be plenty shallow: I’m going to finish this post, take my morning run, go to work, go to my Dr. appointment this afternoon, come home, maybe make supper for my family, pay bills, watch TV, go to bed. It could be hazy and cliched: I’m going to live today like it’s my last, seize every moment, drink deeply of life, stop to smell the roses.
Or I could acknowledge that today must be a combination of the two. I’m going to do all the mundane things on my calendar for the day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make time to notice the sun rising as I write this. It doesn’t mean I can’t notice the songs of the birds as I run in the early morning light. It doesn’t mean I can’t help my teammate discover something about herself, and in the process discover something about myself, as well. It doesn’t mean I can’t smile at the faces in the waiting room, the hopeful faces looking to hear that their cancer is gone and the fearful ones nervous that it’s come back. It doesn’t mean I can’t wrap my family in my arms when I get home and let myself feel grateful to have another day with them.
I can do all those things in the context of a normal day. And maybe because I passed this way today, someone else’s day will be a little brighter. Maybe they will choose to lighten another’s load, so that someone I will never meet has a better experience because I decided today was my best day. Maybe the ripples will propagate outward, join other ripples, and become waves to counter the tides of fear and hate that are trying to swamp us.
It’s a lot to hope for. But if I choose today as the best day of my life, it just might be possible.