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Here Today

Why do we treat the day
With so much needless fear and sorrow
It’s not in its nature to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.
— Wislawa Szymborska
, Nothing Twice

The autumn days are now impressionist paintings, one after another, until some day, not very long from now, the show will end. Knowing that one of these days that fall color, like the smell of tomato vines in the hot summer sun, like the dance of daffodils in spring, like that walk in freshly fallen morning snow, one of these days will be the last day we’ll experience it. This isn’t a sad thing—it’s a savoring thing. We must celebrate that which is fleeting in the moment we have with it.

I think this often while swimming. Living in New England, we think about such things as first and last swims of the season. Which swim in Buzzards Bay will be the last before the air and water temperatures dictate prudence? Which swim in the pool in New Hampshire will be the last dip before the cover inevitably goes on and we call it a season? Which flailing leap into Big Island Pond? Since we rarely know for sure where our lives will take us, we ought to immerse ourselves in the waters of the moment.

And what of old friends? What do we say to someone today when we never know with certainty that we’ll see them again? We sometimes linger with people at the very end, when we have the gift of knowing it will be our last moment together. We know it’s a gift because life is too often more abrupt than that. So shouldn’t we hold that gaze a beat longer? Hug just a little tighter in our time together? Surely we must savor these moments. For today is always gone tomorrow, friend.

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