A great lady once said that, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”
Yes, you’ve guessed it. It is Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt, but more than that, a lady of great foresight and determination, who believed more than anyone else and stayed true to her convictions until the very end. She was also unconventional and outspoken; virtues valued today, but unbecoming in a female of that period. But that never stopped her from doing things she considered right. Eleanor Roosevelt fought for the future, yet she never forgot the importance of living in the present.
Yesterday is history, just like how history is important. It enlightens us. It teaches us where we had gone wrong so that we can right the wrongs and prevent the past from repeating itself. But should we let past mistakes, fallacies and regrets shape us? Do we allow it to slyly worm its way into our life without us realising? To a point where we embody this negativity and overlook what truly matters in life?
Life is like a pendulum; it oscillates back and forth. It doesn’t stop unless we will it to. When that happens do we stop functioning? So many questions, yet so little answers. If we let the past obscure the present, we’ll lose the “essence” of ourselves; all that potential forever buried under the weight of yesteryear.
But like two sides of a coin, life isn’t all sad and bleak. There is happiness; like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy afternoon. The good times and the bad times shouldn’t be compartmentalised into two different categories but should be looked upon as one important construct.
So we all agree that we should just let bygones be bygones though it is also important that we never forget because it is a part of us. At the end of the day, it is up to us to decide how we want to live off our life.
Now let’s take a look at what lies at the other end of the spectrum: the nebulous future; the great mystery. Like its other counterpart, it plays an equally important role in our life. It is where our hopes and dreams sit waiting for us.
It’s human nature to look in the future, to hope that the morrow will be a better day. But as much as we want things to go our way, the vagaries of life is unpredictable, and our carefully planned future only goes so far. That’s when fear and desperation set in, like a sharp hook that sinks into our flesh and refuse to let go. In the process, we lose sight of who we once were, we do things that we normally wouldn’t do, and everything that we have once opposed to seems to take on a different view.
We become blinded, so much so that the present is forgotten. We’re so focused on what is going to happen that we neglect the moment. The future, like the mystery it is, is a powerful apparition. As much as it is a wonderful thing to look straight ahead without a backward glance, no one knows what the future will bring.
Therefore, a balance exists. A middle point that we call the present. Or as Eleanor Roosevelt puts it: the gift. The same way a stray leaf dances on the wind, or the silent patter of rain against the red-tiled rooftop, or how the birds warble in the background – they are signs of the moment. By tuning our wavelength to match those of the present, we begin to appreciate the little things that we have never deigned to notice previously. Quotidian life will become more interesting, more vibrant than before, and we will learn to live more brilliantly than we ever did.
When life is lived to the fullest, that is when one can truly say, “I have lived.” Without regrets, without remorse, and with a grin that threatens to split our visage into two.