The following story actually occurred several years ago. What I thought then was an isolated wake-up call has since become my mantra, a paradigm shift worth sharing for the difference it makes.
Like many people the week before Christmas, I was dashing around trying to get last minute holiday preparations wrapped up. The radio was on as I drove between errands. I was checking to do’s off the list in my head when I heard the voice.
“This morning, you brushed your teeth. You showered and dressed just like you do every day,” the voice said.
I don’t why, but whirling thoughts became instantly still, and the voice on the radio suddenly had my full attention.
The voice relayed more details of my day as though it belonged to an invisible man who had been shadowing me since my waking moment. Little goose bumps popped up on my arms. The voice recalled my drive to the office that morning, my cup of coffee while greeting coworkers on the way to my desk. It knew I had lunch, knew I ran errands, knew I would watch a little TV before bed.
“You did all of these things just like you did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that day,” the voice continued. “It’s just an ordinary day. Except, what you won’t know until tomorrow is that today is the day before.”
What was feeling like a supernatural encounter turned out to be a commercial, for what I can’t even recall. But since then, I’ve not stopped thinking about the day before.
We never know what typical day is the day before. Remember September 11, 2001? We all went about our lives on September 10th like normal. It was the day before. No one expected what happened the next morning when our lives as Americans changed forever. We reeled and grieved. And we adapted to a dramatically altered America than the one we lived in the day before.
The day before is not always bad. Millions of people purchase lottery tickets on a regular basis. According to Texas Lotto Prizes, the odds of winning the jackpot in Texas are one in 25,827,165. Yet, someone does win. The day before, that person goes about the day as usual, picking up a lottery ticket with a loaf of bread and gallon of milk. It’s a regular day like every other day. And then tomorrow, they are immediately transformed from regular people into millionaires with more money than most of us will make in a lifetime.
I have a friend whose daughter and son-in-law learned they were going to have a baby. This was wonderful, longed-for news to this family. A few months down the road, the parents discovered they were having twins, even better news, joyfully received. The day the twins arrived, an even bigger surprise followed them into the world. A third little one not even the doctor was expecting! They were completely unprepared for triplets the day before as labor began. And then, ta-da, a family’s life was changed forever.
Whether joy or sorrow, no one knows what tomorrow holds.
Country singer Tim McGraw released a single in 2004 called “Live Like You Were Dying.” The song is about a man who learns he has a terminal illness. I imagine the fellow was going about life as we all do when suddenly, a bit of news one random day put a number on his head. In the lyrics, his buddy asked him what you do when you get that kind of news. And the man’s answer is filled with adventure and time invested in things he’d wanted to do and never did until that bad news day. He tells his buddy, “Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.”
Tuesday is New Year’s Day. Soon, gyms will be packed with folks starting to work on their resolutions to get healthy or lose weight. People will eat better, imbibe less, be more disciplined. This is a time for starting fresh.
Like most everyone, I too plan a healthier 2019. I want to do the more common things, like change some habits, smile more and complain less. But I have a really big resolution for 2019, too. I want to tackle some of my bucket list. I want to be more present in my relationships. I want to share more, love more, forgive more. My resolution for 2019 and beyond is like the voice on the radio said, to live every day as if it is the day before.
Happy New Year!