Have you ever had the thought that this day in history is never happening again? This happened to me while writing today's date in my journal. I was inspired to go back and look for my journal from 1/1/11 and to think about how I wanted my entry to look on 3/3/33 (I'll be 55, whoa Nelly!)
If you need a perspective shift and a wide-lens view of life, this episode is for you! Skip this episode if you prefer to keep your head down and not live your life on purpose.
How often do we get to write four 2’s in a row? Today is a day in history, never will there be another day be 2, 2, 22. Actually, there will be 2/22/22 which will be five 2’s, but for the sake of argument, we’re going to pretend like today is special and unique.
The next time there’s a number like this with 3’s will be 3/3/33, which is in 11 years. How old will you be in 11 years? I will be 55. Holy cow, that feels so old. That’s like retirement age for some people. If you’re listening to this and you’re 55, I’m sorry for being insensitive, I'm sure you're in great shape and look amazing.
Think back to the last time we had dates line up so nicely, it was 11/11/11. Eleven years ago. What were you doing 11 years ago? I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter and it was a Friday, so chances are good that I went to run errands after getting off work at lunch. Maybe we had friends over, maybe we chilled at home. We had a just-turned 4 year old, so there’s no telling what we were up to. It was football season, so maybe we went to hear the UGA band practice.
I searched old journals and found that I skipped 11/11/11! How dare I? I could spank my 33 year old self. I was probably preoccupied with errands and to-do's. What a shame to let an entire day, a SPECIAL day like 11/11/11 slip by unnoticed! But don't we do that all the time? In fact, don't we let days slip by every single day?
That's why I'm asking you to pause today. If you read this and it's March or April, I still want you to pause and bookmark today. I remember doing this as a kindergartner. I couldn't have articulated it at the time, but I remember thinking that I couldn't remember a lot of details of the days that had already passed. I decided to see what would happen if I purposefully made a memory. Would I be able to hold onto that memory for a week? A month? A year? I remember stressing that I wouldn't pick a good memory, so I spent an afternoon trying to decide which memory I wanted to hold onto. And then I found it, the perfect moment. My mom was on the sofa and I walked over to her. She picked up my 5 year old body and held me in her lap. I took a mental snapshot of this moment. For the next few weeks I'd check in and make sure my mind hadn't forgotten that moment. Weeks turned into months which turned into 39 years later, i can still remember an ordinary day when my mom picked me up and held me in her lap on the harvest gold sofa next to the white lamp with the gold paint around the bottom.
Even though I couldn't find a journal entry from 11/11/11, I did find one from my 38 year old self. I spent two pages writing down what I thought a journal entry from my 48 year old self would look like. I wrote what I hoped would be going on in the life of my 48 year old self. What's funny is that I got most of it right. I decided to look ahead another 11 years and try to write out what I hoped would be going on when I'm 55 and writing on 3/3/33.
Let's play another mind game. When it is 3/3/33, what will you look back on and wish you’d done today on 2/2/22? Will you want to remember what a crappy mood you were in? Will you wish you’d eaten more junk food and not exercised, enjoyed just being alive, or will the 55 year old me thank me for going down to the basement at 530 am and exercising? Will the 55 year old me have fond memories of letting Ollie stay home sick with a cold and climbing in her twin bed with her to watch Annie?
The real questions are: Who are you now and where do you want to go? Who do you wish you were? You're only going to get one chance to make today count. And the day may already be half over. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
I have decided that today will be an amazing day. Despite yesterday's fiasco at the dentist in which both kids were shouting at each other over an armrest while I had the hygienists' hands shoved into my mouth. I don’t want to remember today, 2/2/22, this way, I want to remember today as a good, sunny February day when I had a 10 year old and a 14 year old. I’ll never get another chance to redo yesterday, but I get to do today and it’s going to be a great day.
I love Future Me exercises because it’s so easy for me to see the long vision of where I do and don’t want to go. I don’t want to be in horrible shape. I had a patient the other day who was asking me about the pneumonia vaccine, she’d just gotten it and wanted to know if I knew when the next one would be due. I said, I think that one’s every 10 years. She quickly replied, "Oh, thank goodness I’ll be dead by then." I was shocked: "WHAT?! How do you know you'll be dead? You’ll only be 82!" and she was like, "Honey, I’m 72 years old, of course I'll be dead by then."
And I felt like saying, "So what if you're 72? You’ve got another couple of decades if you play your cards right but if you expect to die, I'm sure you will succeed." But I kept quiet.
Snapshot memories of ordinary days are something you can do literally right now. Here's an example: One night after a date with my husband, we found that we'd finished supper way too early to call it a night, but we didn't want to go out and spend more money and drink more alcohol or eat more food, so we went home and sat in the backyard, taking advantage of having a sitter to handle bath time and bedtime. While we sat on a bench in the backyard, we could see through our french windows into our dining room. The lights were on inside, so we could see our kids running around and laughing. I felt so blessed to be able to be an observer of my life, to see my healthy and happy kids, my home. Let today be one of those snapshot moments of your life where you choose to see all your blessings and live your life on purpose day by day, minute by minute.
I have a friend who lost her husband when he was 35, he had a heart attack at work and died. When I asked how she was doing, my SIL told me that she had told her how they’d had a playful interaction before he left for work. He’d grabbed her butt and teased her. I think that’s a good memory. I sometimes think about that when Chase and I argue or make snarky comments in the morning.
i dropped my daughter off at school one day while she was crying about something and later I listened to Oprah’s interview with two of the parents who lost a child in Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The mom said she’d taken her son to a coffee shop before she dropped him off at school and they’d had a really cool chat just the two of them. You can’t take your kids to get hot cocoa every day or it would lose it’s magic, but you can decide how today will go. You get to design your life. You get to pause today, think about how things are going, where you are, and where you'd like to go.