Last summer, I went on a day hike with my sons. It was the 5th of July and my wife had to work, so I asked the boys if they’d want to go on a hike with me. To my surprise, they agreed, and I decided we’d go to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, about 15 miles to the northwest of my home. It was a particularly busy and stressful time at work as a project I’d been working on for over two years was coming to a close (or so I thought, but that’s another story) and I wanted to get out of the house to clear my head.
The weather that day was sunny and warm (almost too warm) and the blue skies held for most of the day. We hiked, talked, and laughed until, just after lunchtime, we found ourselves at the summit of one of the highest peaks in the park. I have a wonderful photo of my older son, having a meditative moment as he sat on the summit. As we started our descent, rain clouds appeared on the horizon (as they tend to do Colorado summers), and we sped our descent and hastened our way back to my car. We drove out of the park, found our way to a local (and very popular) dive restaurant that served delicious, greasy hamburgers, and sat and ate and laughed together.
That was one of the best days of the year for me (and the day I remember most clearly). As I said, it was a particularly stressful time at work and I was either at the office, or I was home (physically) with my mind wandering and fretting over everything that needed to be done at work. My wife was growing increasingly frustrated with me and, candidly, I wasn’t finding a lot of satisfaction or happiness in my life.
But an amazing thing happened during that hike. For a few hours, thoughts of my project slipped into the background and all of the stress and concern I’d been feeling melted away. For a few hours, I was able to live in the moment and truly experience everything that was happening around me. It was wonderful and one of the best days of the year for me. As I told my sons, it’s a day I will carry with me to my deathbed.
You see, so often we’re living ahead of ourselves. We’re thinking about what might happen tomorrow, what we need to do the day after, that we forget to live in the moment. We forget to experience what’s happening around us and “be here, now.” How much of our lives have we missed because we’re living in the future? Or the past?
There’s a scene in Kung Fu Panda where Po (the Panda) is having a moment of uncertainty and doubt. Master Oogway (the turtle who created Kung Fu) consoles Po, telling him, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift … that’s why they call it the present.” (yes, I know, the original quote is actually attributed to several people, including Bil Keane. I just like that scene from the movie).
So, my advice to you (and me), is let go of yesterday, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Don’t worry about tomorrow; what will come, will come. Today, live in the present. Be here, now. Experience every moment this day has to offer, because you’ll never get it back.
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