When I doze off to sleep each night, I engross myself in a typical routine of setting up a little movie theatre in my brain and playing back a full film of how my day went. (Hopefully I’m not the only person who does this.) I like to watch Tori, the can’t-stop-won’t-stop protagonist (at least that’s what I like to think she is) kick butt and show life what she’s made of. Sometimes I even like to imagine that I’m munching on popcorn as I watch the movie, but then I actually start to want popcorn in real life… and then I realize that maybe I have taken this whole thing a little too far.
But anyway — the other night, as I started watching that day’s film, I quickly realized that it was different from usual, and not in a good way.
For this movie, I leaned back in my (imagined) cushioned chair and watched Tori act in a way that didn’t make me proud of her. I didn’t like the way she handled obstacles, how she fell into unnecessary mood swings, and how she went through the day with a dark cloud over her head. The movie depicted a gloomy, dull, unrewarding day, whereas I prefer to watch Tori live each day as more of a romantic comedy/feel-good documentary (and not in a film-noir/dark drama).
Needless to say, after I finished the movie, I realized how disappointed I was with how I conducted myself over the past 24 hours. All I wanted was a do-over, where I could rewind the whole thing and start from scratch at 8 a.m. Wouldn’t it be so nice if I could do that?
And then I sat up in bed and had an epiphany.
What about tomorrow? (Boom! Mind explosion!) I totally have tomorrow to do things differently. I get to wake up with a whole new try, because life still ain’t over just because I had a bad day today. And what makes it even better? That I realized I can live each day of my life in this way, knowing that tomorrow, or maybe an hour from now, or even in the next minute, or any time just as long as I’m here, I will always have a second chance.
Because life is full of unlimited do-overs.
But we forget about this so easily. Once you have a negative experience, it spurs a whirlwind of negative thoughts and moods, and you really just feel like such a bum. You walk around in a slump, go to sleep in a slump, and wake up remembering that you were in a slump yesterday, and now it’s on your mind again, so you have to carry it around with you today, too.
It feels like this is the end-all-be-all, and you’re just going to have to live from now on with an acute awareness about something that didn’t go your way, or that you didn’t do your best, or that you did something regretful. And you settle on the fact that this is what your life looks like now. You attach yourself to this vision of the present and future, where you’re just going to have to keep chugging along with all of your past mistakes hooked onto you.
But — you can unlatch them. You can be free to start over. Wouldn’t that be nice?
So first, realize how resilient you are. Not only are you a) stronger than you think, but b) life is so generous in that it is constantly giving you opportunities to begin again. When you keep both of these things in mind, you’re unstoppable. It becomes clear that no feeling or thought is permanent, and you do not have to stay shackled to anything that hurts you and makes you tired.
All you have to do is decide to start with a clean slate tomorrow, and suddenly the possibilities for a bright future become endless. We get this one life, and we owe it to ourselves to live every day as fully, bravely, beautifully, and brightly as we can.
In the words of Tyler Knott Gregson, “What good is a half-lit life?”
You owe it to your future to never allow yourself to be stuck in the past, to relish in each moment, and to relentlessly push forward. To always take that one more step.
Because you’re not just this person, reading this article on your computer or phone. You’re someone who made it through each painstaking, beautiful day of your past, and here you are today — the strongest and wisest you’ve ever been. You made it then, and you’ll make it today.
And one more thing: don’t hold onto regrets. Because at that time, you did the best you could with what you had. And although you might not see it yet, it’s setting you up for something better. And that “better” could arrive tomorrow, for all you know.
You may not be certain of things that will come and go from your life, but one thing, for certain, is that you will always have yourself, and you will always have the capacity to look forward.
And that is everything.
Photo credits: lifehack.org