Live Die Repeat

Is what you get from your day worth giving it away?

Photo by Zeynep Sümer on Unsplash

There are a few songs that make me sad and make me think at the same time. Ella Fitzgerald sings one of them.

“Every time we say goodbye
I die a little
Every time we say goodbye
I wonder why a little”

Although I believe Ella’s song is about a romantic relationship, my thoughts center around impermanence. Or, in other words, on the depleting process of the one resource, we have zero ability to save: time. Every time we end our day and go to bed, we say goodbye to our precious possessions, beloved family members and friends, our favorite coffee blend, books — to our everything.

Since the future comes in one-day installments, we are “born” each day we wake up. Tibetans have a custom of turning over their cup before going to sleep, signifying not just the end of the day but the end of one’s life. In the morning, we first think, I am alive, I can see, hear, and feel. Then we put the cup back up again. A new life begins, and we are ready to receive.

The question is: “what is it that we will receive?”

Of course, the idea itself is nothing new — I remember learning this concept about dying and being born again in the morning from Dale Carnegie, who borrowed it from earlier sources.

“If you want to avoid worry, do what Sir William Osler did: Live in “day-tight compartments.” Don’t stew about the futures. Just live each day until bedtime.” Dale Carnegie

On top of Carnegie’s concept, there’s also impermanence of it all. Each day is like a dollar we spent from the life ATM. If you live 82 years, today is the day you’re spending one dollar out of 30 000. It may seem like not much, but it may be disturbing that you’re spending it every day whether you want it or not.

The important question is whether I spent it well. What did I get in return? What would be the biggest bang for my buck? Did I have a meaningful conversation with someone? Did I learn anything valuable? Did I have one moment of pure awareness?

What makes for a good day may be tiny or huge. Even if it’s something really hard, really demanding, isn't it a comforting thought that you don't need to swallow that frog in one piece? Instead, you can go by little chunks in daily installments. If you manage to be really satisfied with your day’s work rather than wait for the final result, you will have solved one of the greatest challenges of the psychology of motivation.

“Anyone can carry his burden, however heavy, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day.” Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m halfway through my day today, and I haven't accomplished anything grandiose. Just a few mundane activities: prepared “breakfast of champions” for four girls that woke up just before noon, washed up afterward, finished another chapter of the book. Thanks to some luck, I maintained enough presence that I’m sure I’ll have a good memory of today, and “they can’t take that away from me.”

If a new day comes, what will you do?

Better yet, when you finish reading this last sentence, what will you do with the remainder of today? This day.

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Relatable writing on our relationships with our Selves.

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Wojciech Jura

Wojciech Jura

I coach on Coach.me and via zoom on www.wojciechjura.com. I cover Positive Productivity — my clients get more productive with respect to mindful well-being.

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