The Hope & Habit of Today
When my dreams don’t come true I am tempted into despair. Believe it or not, I am not a positive person. I struggle to find meaning each day. Some days I wonder if I can get up. What is the point to all my trying, all my writing, all my work?
A wise man once said, “Vanity, vanity all is vanity […] there is nothing new under the sun.”
This sums up my despair. Why try when all is meaningless?
But the same wise man also said. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die.”
In such a saying there is so much hope. The wise man says to me, “Find joy in today. Find joy in habit of living.”
Steve Jobs, the businessman and creator of the Macintosh Computer, the iPod, and iPhone once made a similar remark in his commencement speech to Stanford University.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day like it’s your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and ever since then, for the last 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
I have so many things to be grateful for. I am the husband of an amazing, beautiful woman. I am the father of three healthy children. I work for an amazing employer. I am living the dream of being a published writer. I have parents who love me, friends who support me, and a faith that sustains me. Which makes me wonder, isn’t joy found in the simple every day doings — the reading of the morning paper, the cozying up with a hot mug of Columbian roast coffee.
And too many times each day I enslave myself to anxiety. I need a better house. I need a better car. I need to be the best writer in the whole world. There is no joy in these anxieties.
Instead, I wish to live for today and look for the little joys sprinkled throughout my life. And perhaps the greatest joy I have been given is the joy of habit. The habit of waking up and creating, writing a few words every morning; the habit of kissing my wife good day and hugging my children; the habit of exercising; the habit of chasing the good in life.
“Joy is found in the simple every day”
I don’t believe the wise man means for all to specificlaly eat and drink and be merry. I know his words inspire me to write, create, and dwell in life’s daily joys. I see in his advice the joy of habit. And, over time, habit, like a seed, can flourish into a strong and healthy tree that is not tossed about by storms of life; a tree that remains stalwart and able to give shelter to many.