Like the lyrics in the song from the Broadway musical, Annie – “Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow! You’re Always A Day A Way!” – many of us spend a significant amount of time during our lives waiting for tomorrow. Yes, we wait for the next something, somewhere or someone hoping it or they will make us wealthier, happier, stronger, more content or, at the very least, it or they will distract us from some level of discomfort or confusion. Unfortunately, our experience shows that this focus on ‘a tomorrow that is always a day away” is often the very thing that prevents us from living the kind and quality of life we could be living today.
You see, when we spend our time waiting for the phone to ring, the weekend to arrive, the invitation to come, the workday to end, the next show to start or the vacation to begin; when we wait for the stock market to go up, that special person to come into our lives, and often and especially, for someone else or the world itself to change, we prevent ourselves from being present and doing here and now precisely what will make tomorrow different and better. And, of course, we do something else. We miss many of the joys and wonders – both small and large – that can make ‘now’ really quite remarkable.
In our new book, Do Not Go Quietly, A Guide To Living Consciously and Aging Wisely For People Who Weren’t Born Yesterday, we point out that this inclination to hope, which is common to so many of us, appears to stem from the belief that these future somethings/somewheres/someones must somehow be better than whatever is going on right now.
Author Eckhart Tolle calls this the “waiting for tomorrow syndrome”. Perhaps you, like so many of us who are in the second half of life, are familiar with it. Perhaps it is also true that you, even if only occasionally, find yourself gazing longingly into the future and hoping. If this is true, then we have a single and valuable suggestion to offer.Stop Waiting For Tomorrow!
Yes, stop waiting for the doctor, the lawyer, the government official, your boss, your spiritual counselor, therapist, exercise instructor, best friend, parent, lover, husband, wife or even God to give you the answer or to do something for you. Stop waiting for some future possibility and start paying attention to what you know and don’t know now, to what you can and cannot do and to what you still have to learn. Yes pay attention to what is occurring right now in your world. For as so many good and wise teachers who have come before us have said, our world has within it the solution to every problem we face and the answer to every question we ask. So it holds then that if we stop waiting for a different life to somehow magically materialize and start being deeply and continually grateful for the life we currently have, we may just discover precisely what we are looking for.
In our experience we also are wise to remember to take time each day to turn away from the outside noise and from other people’s well meaning, but often equally flawed opinions. We are wise to look instead to the one place where we can always find the highest and best wisdom – inside ourselves. Yes, all we have to do is have the humility to ask, the patience to wait for the answers, the willingness to trust them and the courage to act on them.
And please know that we do not offer this advice from some elevated pedestal removed from the fray. Instead, we, like you, are in the thick of life every day. And as a result we know that if those of us who are already in or approaching the second half of life do not stop waiting for something to happen or someone to show up do things for us, the probability is very high that whatever is troubling us now will most likely continue troubling us in the time ahead.
So the good news is that there is a cure for this “tomorrow, tomorrow” condition. We can stop waiting! We can stop giving in to negative thoughts. We can stop holding on to limited beliefs and stop repeating some of the same old habits that do not serve us or others. Instead we can be grateful for the gift that is our life, share the talents and wisdom we have, be on the lookout for new talents to develop and, in this way, more fully celebrate the lives we were born to live.