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Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

We treat our plans as though they are a lasso, thrown from the present around the future, in order to bring it under our command. But all a plan is—all it could ever possibly be—is a present-moment statement of intent. It’s an expression of your current thoughts about how you’d ideally like to deploy your modest influence over the future. The future, of course, is under no obligation to comply. — Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Yesterday I played chess for two hours with my brother, him shaking and physically beaten up from radiation treatments, but sharp-witted and sarcastic as ever, with his gallows humor in heavy use. I chipped away with bold chess moves that almost sunk me a few times before I ended up winning in the end. I don’t take it easy on him when it comes to chess, nor would he expect that from me. He’s won his fair share. Ultimately we were both grateful to play against a fellow human instead of the cold comfort of mouse clicks and a glaring computer screen. Chess is amongst the most beautiful games life has to offer—why do we play it so infrequently?

Today I’d contemplated a long hike on a 4000 footer, but in the end I’m opting for dinner with friends to celebrate a birthday. I suppose I could have done both, but we prioritize what we will in our brief dance under the stars. The friends will be gone soon, sailing away in the fall to faraway places. Lasso time with them while you can, I think, and stop worrying about what you can’t do. We miss so much in our lifetimes—how many shooting stars did I miss by not gazing upward a beat longer? How many frozen ice sculptures melt away without my ever seeing them? We can’t worry about such things, we can only do what we might in the present moment. And try again in the next should we arrive there.

Tomorrow may just arrive, and we ought to make our plans and live in hope that it all comes together. We have to place a little faith in a future we might not see, don’t we? Life is a collection of memories of moments gone by, but can only be lived now, with an eye towards then. All that matters is living with intent, and embracing the good while managing the rest. I intend to find a little magic in the world, to keep sending sparks of light wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself, and celebrate it in my own modest way. Maybe that’s enough.

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