“Every one of us, in the end, only gets three days: yesterday, today and tomorrow.” Actor / director Tom Hanks recently made this statement in a television interview that I happened to catch. The context of the interview was framed with respect to Mr. Hanks’ experience of both he and his wife contracting Covid and the upcoming release of his World War II movie Greyhound. If you are familiar with his work, then you know he is quite interested in that particular era of history.
Subsequent to this interview, I have reflected a fair bit on the premise that each of us in the end only gets three days.
Yesterday: One of the primary purposes of yesterday is the wisdom it has taught us. There is the very familiar quote, attributed to writer and philosopher Georgie Santayana, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Mr. Hanks’ deep desire to explore the World War II era reflects his belief that there is much to learn from that time in history that can be helpful to our present day. As a student of history I could not agree more. One of the key ingredients for a critical thinking approach to problem solving is the consideration of previous learnings. In my experience this is why cultures with a high appreciation for elders have such depth and wisdom at their core. As one of my spiritual directors suggested to me on numerous occasions, “Never forget, God uses our history – so should you!”
Today: Carpe diem – seize the day! One of my favorite therapists likes to say, “The present moment is the most important moment to be present to.” If we occupy our brain space with regret or romanticizing of the past we lose the incredible opportunities and possibilities that today is providing. The reality is that embracing the present moment is very challenging for many of us. And yet this IS the only moment we have. This IS the moment that is calling forth the gifts we have been given to be a part of transforming the world.
Tomorrow: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” This is probably the most famous quote from Benjamin Franklin. It is of course one of a thousand quotes that come from the vast body of writing on leadership. And yet having a plan, a vision, a desired destination is not just for field generals and CEOs. Every person has within them the capacity even in some small way to make themselves, their neighborhood, the world better than it is today. Aspiration is the bridge that takes us from the challenge of the present reality to the hope for a better future. This is the way for those who desire to follow in the Way of Jesus. This is the destination that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of, God’s dream, of the Beloved Community.
I think Tom Hanks is right, we only get three days. How will you use yours?