The Illusion of "Tomorrow"

There was once a farmer who had a wild horse that he used to tend his fields. One day the horse ran away. The villagers offered their sympathy to him saying: "Oh, how unlucky that happened to you". The farmer replied: "Maybe, maybe not, we'll see tomorrow". The next day this wild horse came back with 6 other wild horses. Suddenly the farmer had 7 horses tending his fields. The villagers were happy for him and said: "You're really lucky, good for you!" The farmer replied: "Maybe, maybe not, we'll see tomorrow..."

The next day, the farmer's son rode on one of the wild horses and sadly the horse threw him down and he injured his knee. The villagers sympathized with him saying: "It's really sad, sorry about what happened!" The farmer replied: "Maybe, maybe not, we'll see tomorrow". The next day, soldiers were needed for an ongoing war and so all the healthy young men in the village were drafted to go to war. The farmer's son being injured was exempted. The villagers said: "You're real lucky that your son isn't going to fight the war" The farmer replied: “Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see tomorrow...”

The next day, the government sent out checks to all families who’s sons were drafted for the war as a relief package. The farmer didn’t get one. The villagers said: “It’s sad that you’re not getting a check especially given the tough economy these days.” To which the farmer replied: “Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see tomorrow.” A week later the farmer fell ill such that he couldn’t work. His son then took charge of the farm while he recovered. The villagers said: “You’re really lucky that your son didn’t go away to fight. He’s now helping you”. Again the farmer replied: “Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see tomorrow..."

The point of this story is clear: you can’t tell what will happen tomorrow. Tomorrow always comes with new possibilities. You may be in a good place today and tomorrow everything turns upside down. What exactly is tomorrow?

What is Tomorrow?

To some, tomorrow is literally the next day. To others, tomorrow could be the distant future. This is often used in statements such as: “Tomorrow will be better than today”, “I’m hopeful for a better tomorrow”, “Someday, things will get better”. All of these statements point to the hope of a better future. As we’ve seen already, this future isn’t guaranteed. When “tomorrow” comes, it becomes just another “today”. Then, we wait in anticipation for another “tomorrow”. Tomorrow is always coming but it never arrives.

What we know for sure is that we have today. Today is a gift; it’s called the present. Tomorrow is one of the favorite words of procrastinators. “I will do it tomorrow”, “I will start that project tomorrow”, “I will visit my family tomorrow”, “I will start living my life tomorrow…” The problem with this is that tomorrow will never come. The next day will just be another today and you’ll still postpone what you have to do today to tomorrow. What’s to say that you’ll see tomorrow? What’s to say that your family will be here tomorrow?

There’s this song in pidgin English that we occasionally sang which goes like this: “Today na today, tomorrow e no dey: If you die today, second chance e no go dey” Though it sounds morbid, it conveys a valuable lesson: Life can be stingy with second chances.

Don’t push to tomorrow, what you can do today. Spend quality time with your family today. Start that project you’ve been putting forward today. Start learning that new skill today. Enroll for that course you wanted to take today. Make amends with that sibling you’ve not spoken with in years. You may not be able to do it tomorrow. It’s better to try now and fail than to never try and regret for the rest of your life. Failure is temporal, but regret is permanent. You time is precious, make the best use of it.

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