The Dalai Lama is quoted almost daily. If you have ever scrolled through Instagram, Facebook or any other social media that allows photographs, there is a massive chance you’ve seen his words edited into a beautiful scene. While I do try to keep myself separate from others, I have to confess: some of those images really get to me. His words, though, get to me more.
“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.” This is perhaps my favorite of them all.
We all have things we’d like to do. Ambitions to pursue. Dreams to chase. Lives we’d “like to lead”. Places we’d like to visit. People we’d like to meet. A whole world of possibilities swirling just beyond the cusp of the word Later.
I have news for you.
Later does not exist.
When have you ever, in your life, looked at your watch and said “hey, look! It’s Later!”
That’s because we’ve made the notion of Later up, to protect us from doing what is scary now. It stops us from doing what we truly need to do. Sure, it is good to have a vocabulary word for describing the future, but if you are abusing the word to excuse yourself from doing what you love, listen up.
Later keeps us safe. It keep us “in” what we know. It keeps us here, away from the unfamiliar new things that we dream about. If you’re waiting for Later to arrive and magically turn your life around, then you’re cheating yourself out of a life you’d rather be living.
Sure, some of us do things Later. You cannot do everything all at once. But this concept is specifically applicable when there’s that one thing that you keep putting off until later, until it is never done. If you are currently working towards that thing, then I assure you, Later will eventually become Now. But if you wait for Later to magically arrive, I wish you the best of luck.
Putting things off until later either means one of two things:
1. Not Important or 2. Not Tangible.
[or of course, No Time. But now’s not the time for that. See what I did there?]
Now, this Not Important thing you’re putting off until later, if it is truly unimportant, that is your own prerogative. However, if what you’re placing away in the Later folder is something true to your heart, like learning a new craft, or traveling somewhere, or pursuing a different life… then what are you waiting for?
The reasonings behind being Not Tangible can include : you physically cannot do it, say: being in China, Today. We can’t change that, yet. Everyone has physical limitations… to an extent. You cannot time travel, or teleport, but you can work on what is possible for you in the moment. Maybe you start by looking at airfare? Or putting away money each month?
Another reason for something to be Not Tangible: you cannot fathom doing it, say: you’re a bit unsure of your possibility, or you’re insecure, or you’re unsure of where to start. My advice? Get over it. Try it. Research it (the Internet is a wonderous place). Make steps towards the goal. And then DO it.
What makes something Intangible?
Let’s give you a real-life example, shall we? Say you want to live somewhere warm with good surf, like me. At first it was a far-out concept, growing up in the North of the U.S. meant frigid winters and short summers. The Tropics might as well have been Mars.
I knew it was Important, so let’s skip that “it’s unimportant” reasoning. I did have this serious idea that living anywhere but my New England home wasn’t Tangible. I graduated from college with an insane amount of debt. I didn’t have any family or friends abroad that I could crash with. I could barely afford gas to put in my car. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have anything but an insane amount of fear.
All pretty solid reasons for not moving to a tropical locale and surf… right?
There was one good thing that I did have. The knowledge that following what I was “supposed” to do, getting a 9-5, working up the ladder, putting it away in a 401k…. that was not going to get me any closer to my happy place.
At the time of writing this, its been four years since I had a freak out my senior year in college, sobbing in the career counselor’s office (more on that later). Since then, I’ve put a plan into place.
I figured that I needed to make a good amount of money, fast. I waitressed, I lifeguarded, I worked at a winery. I did jobs that didn’t “use” my degree, to other’s chagrin. I worked without breaks, going from one job to the next, with no days off. Until the end of the season. I took steps towards the goal. I read every travel blog I could find, budgeted until my brain hurt, quizzed well-traveled friends, and took opportunities as they arose.
Then, I took off. I went places. I went to Costa Rica. I went to the Caribbean. I went to Indonesia, Australia, Europe and back again.
And Now? I am in Costa Rica, indefinitely. I live in a warm place, with coconuts and iguanas and monkeys. I surf everyday.
Before your ego goes “oh but she’s different, you can’t do that”… Tell it to shut up. Yes. You can do it. Whatever it is.
Are you Afraid?
Fear can keep us in our comfort zone, where we feel in control and safe.
A lot of us put things we really want to do at the end of the list.
Learn to surf, take a pottery class, learn to dance the salsa, adopt a dog, bungee jump, visit California, work at an animal shelter. But you save it for later. After I do all of this other, more “important” stuff. After I fulfill my responsibilities, take care of business, then I’ll do it.
Fear is an indicator of what you should be pursuing. If it’s frightening, pursue it. If it terrifies you, chase it. I’m scared a good percentage of the time in the water, for various reasons. Does that mean I don’t go in the water? Absolutely not.
What if it’s more than Fear?
Meet Danny Clayton, a rad surfer living in Indonesia and designing her own surf wear line, forever changing the way women are seen in the lineup. We’ve interviewed her on this site before.
She’s got a very Tangible reason to not surf.
Danny has a congenital heart arrhythmia that can cause sudden death. Thirteen years ago her cardiologist said “no surfing”. However, she decided to pursue her passion, to live her life in a way that keeps her uplifted, to follow her dreams.
When there’s a very real possibility that tomorrow doesn’t exist, you need to do all you can to live your life.
She not only has continued to surf, and surf well, but she has traveled the world and explored waves only seen in independent surf films. From the Maldives to the outer reaches of the Indonesian archipelago, Australia and her homeland of New Zealand, Danny encourages us all to look past what is stopping us and just go for it.
Isn’t it time? Isn’t it Now?
It is time to seize the day. Seize your life. If you don’t, then who the hell will?
No time like the present.
How soon “not now” becomes “never”.
Martin Luther King
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Tell me about it below.