We are firm believers that truly today is a gift and the most special of all days. We are not alone. Philosophers, TED talkers, and social media meme-ers agree over a thousand times a day, every day, that today is a gift. But we should not become so involved in today as to mortgage tomorrow. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, we are not guaranteed the next minute(!), but if we might be here when it comes, we must be ready for it. We do not want to be so wrapped up in today that we put aside anything that doesn’t provide immediate gratification.
Among the many who have responded to the specialness of today, one stands out in reacting to what we mean. Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta) said, “Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today, let us begin.” She understood that today is not the goal. Today is the jumping off point for all yet to come. Even if we might not be here to enjoy a future, it is our responsibility to prepare for it, to prepare others for it, and to as much as we can, prepare it for others. That is when we become truly great – when we are willing to plan, prepare, act, and do that which will not benefit us. Of the many quotes of todays and tomorrows, few address the true specialness of such altruism.
“Special are those who plant trees knowing that they shall never sit in their shade.” Just about every culture on earth has adopted this in their own words as part of their character. Some are very specific. “These trees which he plants, and under whose shade he shall never sit, he loves them for themselves, and for the sake of his children and his children’s children, who are to sit beneath the shadow of their spreading boughs.” Some are more direct, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” Some are just special. “He that plants trees, loves others besides himself.”
It is an act of love to make preparations for things not yet happening, that we might not ever see happen, but we feel are so important that everybody should have the benefit of our wisdom and knowledge or abilities. It is the wise person who knows a tree planted here will cast a shadow there. It is a knowledgeable person who knows what tree to plant that will be the most beneficial. It is an able person who can plant a tree. It is a loving person who will do this knowing they will be long out of tomorrows before it is tall enough to cast its cooling shade.
So yes, today is a gift, and yes, that is why it is called the present. Our present to our future selves is to prepare for tomorrow for when it becomes today. Our present to our children and theirs is to prepare for the tomorrows they cannot yet themselves know are coming. Our present to the world is to do it without expecting anything in return but to feel love for those who will benefit. We have only today to work on that. Let us begin!