My 4 year old grandson was so excited about an event his teacher told would be happening the next day in school that when he woke he immediately asked “Is today tomorrow?”
The cuteness of his remark was obvious, but the more I thought about it the more profound it became. In addition to the fact that he was learning about time, he also gave great advice about how to live life.
Time as we know it is past, present and future. The past and future may influence the present, but don’t exist in it. Too often we allow that influence to become greater than it deserves, or should, for a healthy today. We could carry an event in our lives into our ongoing present to the point of being paralyzed by it, or plan/worry about an upcoming event to the point of being consumed by it. Of course there are exceptions to this, and every situation is different, but the challenge is striking a healthy balance between the three dimensions of time that we live daily.
To first understand this we need to understand that we live in the realm of thought speech and action. Our thoughts are the ones that can most easily distract/worry/consume our time. They can travel to distant worlds, events, possibilities, fears or dreams. They can potentially, even without our intent, distort our past and future, and steal our present with or without our consent. Our thoughts have great potential for wonderful productivity, but can also be like a wild monkey hard to control.
Our speech is much more focused and usually deals with more practical topics. However, as we know we can speak about anything that comes to our mind, or other people and meaningless things. Our speech is a great gift when used properly but also an easy stumbling block to building relationships and achieving goals.
On the other hand, action connects us to the present in a way that thought and speech can’t possibly accomplish. The present is the only place where time and space can merge into one. Action ties us into the present by creating an active relationship with something that exists in the present. We may be using it, eating it, making it, building or destroying it, but we are engaged and connected.
When you have an opportunity to do a good deed, go for it. Don’t delay it! Be involved with the world on the level of action. It connects you to time in a healthy manner.
As the Chassidic saying goes “one good deed is greater than a thousand sighs”. It is too easy in life to take the easy way out and avoid an action we need to take, or get absorbed/distracted/over-involved in the world of thought and speech. Even when it is for a good purpose, it does not connect us to the present, and to reality, the way an action does.
So a four year old teaches us that today is defined by an event, not a thought or a talk. We too, in order to live in the present, need to make sure our days are filled with ‘events’ which will create a strong connection and unity with both time and space.