Tom Walsh: Living for Today Doesn’t Mean Ignoring the Future

By Tom Walsh, Positive Thoughts, June 10, 2015

When my wife and I lived and worked there, I was constantly amazed at the number of people who showed up at the Grand Canyon without reservations for lodging.  They went to a National Park that has over four million visitors a year and some 900 hotel rooms, somehow expecting a room to be waiting for them.  I once overheard someone at one of the cafeterias say to her husband, “I think it’s ridiculous that they don’t have a room available for us.”

Ridiculous?  Hardly.  I didn’t say anything, but the obvious thought that came to mind was that it was a bit ridiculous to come to the Grand Canyon without having made reservations.

I’m a huge proponent of living for today, of taking care of today’s tasks in the here and now and not worrying about what the future will bring.  But sometimes it’s quite obvious that today’s task is making plans for tomorrow; otherwise, we’ll face problems tomorrow that definitely can bring us down.

In the case of the Grand Canyon, a lack of planning (such as making reservations) can have a huge impact on people’s vacations.  Given the fact that there are only some 900 rooms in the park itself, and another thousand right outside the park, many people end up driving 40, 60, or 75 miles just to get the closest available lodging–and usually at much higher prices than they would have paid at the park.

A relative of mine will be moving this summer, and she and her family are already looking for apartments in the city they’re moving to.  They know that if they get here with a truck full of furniture and don’t have a place to move that furniture into, they’ll end up paying a lot of money for storage and end up having to unload and then load again and then unload again when they find an apartment.

We’re going to visit a national park soon, and part of my day today was looking up hiking trails and other things to do at the park.  While I like to try to stay focused in the present, I know that if I don’t do the research for tomorrow we may end up wasting a lot of time and even missing some of the best parts of the park.  As it is, we now have three sets of plans for our visit that we hope will make our time there more enjoyable with the limited amount of time we have to spend.

When people tell us not to think about tomorrow, they don’t mean not to plan when planning is appropriate.  Sometimes the most important task in our lives today is getting ready for tomorrow.  The words that we read about tomorrow have more to do with worrying about what tomorrow may bring, even though we really have no idea what tomorrow really will turn out like.  They’re talking about dreading possibilities and focusing on possible negative outcomes, because that worry can keep us depressed and anxious all day today–even though tomorrow hasn’t come yet and nothing has even happened yet.

Planning is important in our lives, and it would be a shame if we were to neglect it for the sake of “living for today.”  One of the most important facts that we can acknowledge is that sometimes, the most important task facing us on this day is that of making sure that tomorrow is taken care of.  That way, we can avoid many unpleasant problems when tomorrow becomes today, and by avoiding those problems we make sure that the new today is as pleasant as can be.

Tom Walsh

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2 comments

  1. “The reason people find it hard…” Nice, way to make a blanket statement about all people. Do you really think everyone is exactly the same? Well, I’m unique and I totally disagree with your statement about finding it hard to be happy. That may be true for you, but its not true for me. For someone all about uplifting people many of your blog posts really bring out the sadness in me. Projecting your own sh*t onto other people ain’t cool. It hurts. I know because I’m a recovering project-a-holic myself. I’m sorry. Aaron

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