Monday, September 12, 2011

There's always today

I love the idea of today.

Most people love the idea of tomorrow, the promise of the future with all of its sparkle and shiny things, and they say that "there's always tomorrow," "the sun'll come out tomorrow," you can believe in tomorrow. I prefer to believe in today.

Because, when you think about it, tomorrow doesn't happen without today. What we do today changes tomorrow, and today would have been completely different if people had made different choices yesterday.

That idea sounds daunting at first, and extremely intimidating. It makes you stop and think about what you're doing, because anything can make a difference.

Today, as I was walking out of class, one of the other students made eye contact, smiled at me, and continued with her life. It may not have seemed like a big deal, but sometimes it takes one smile to make you realize how few smiles are exchanged at eight o'clock on a Monday morning. It made my morning better and I made a conscious effort to smile at other students on my way out.  If my smile inspired each of them to smile at others, then that one girl who decided to smile at someone on a Monday morning potentially made it a better Monday morning for dozens of people. Little gestures like that tend to have a ripple effect.

See what I mean about the actions of one person making a difference?

Now, there are two conflicting ideas about how today affects tomorrow. The first idea is what I've been saying, that everything we do today makes the future better or worse. The other idea is "don't sweat the small stuff." You have to take the long view and stop worrying about the little things because in twenty years it won't make a difference in your life. This theory comes in handy when you are having a bad hair day, or when you do something particularly stupid. It's nice to think that with time, everyone will forget about you tripping down the stairs or having something stuck in your teeth.

The beauty of it, and the reason that I really love the idea of today, is that both of these theories work. Smiling at someone will definitely brighten up their day, and may lead to them brightening up other people's days, which may lead to the whole world being just a little brighter, but chances are that the original smile will eventually be forgotten, along with the things you want people to forget. The person who received the smile may not even remember why their morning suddenly got better.

This should not be a discouraging thought. It just means that we get to live in a world where you can do stupid things and no one will hold them against you, and if you choose to make the most of your todays, you get to live in the tomorrow you helped create. Even if no one remembers your smile brightening their day, you will know that when someone smiles at you the next day, it could be part of the ripple effect you put in motion.



Thea said...

That's a wonderful thought. I have had my days at school brightened by smiling students too. Or by meeting a favorite teacher by chance and having them remember me or any little thing like that.

Now I shall add this post to one of those seemingly little things that has managed to brighten my day and challenge me to take my actions seriously. And increase my laughter at myself and the stupid things that I do.

Anonymous said...

"... it takes one smile to make you realize how few smiles are exchanged at eight o'clock on a Monday morning..."

I've tried to live by this. You never will, or can, know how one gesture of kindness can affect someone. I remember very vividly having a cold one day at a friend's house. It was a church gathering sort-of-thing, and as there were so many people there, I was a little alone in my snuffling misery. Then someone handed me a kleenex with a smile on their face. It was just a small thing, but it turned my day right-side-up. And I still remember it.

Bless you for this, Jane! Thank you for sharing you thoughts!