Friday, 28 December 2012

No Day But Today

Image courtesy of hot ticket

No day but today. It's a phrase I'm asked about a lot, largely because I have it permanently emblazoned across my chest in the form of a girlie tattoo, and people always want to know what it means.

The idea of 'living each moment as your last' is one that most people I know are fascinated with, and it's often assumed that my love of this phrase means I'm a free-spirited adrenaline junkie. Not so. In fact, I'm pretty much scared of my own shadow and I'm incredibly highly strung. I always have been and always will be.

'No day but today' is a phrase that I fell in love with as a tender fourteen year old watching the musical 'Rent' for the first time. The song that it appears in ('Another Day') is less about bungee jumping from helicopters and more about making room in your life for the things that make you happy. For example, my favourite lyric 'there's only now/there's only here/give in to love/or live in fear' sums up the entire theme of the song beautifully. The story is set in 1980's New York and the two characters in the song are both suffering with HIV. In those days, if you had HIV you didn't have the life expectancy that sufferers have now. They had to make the most of the moment, truly living for the now. The female character, Mimi, is trying to convince Roger to open up to happiness despite the hard fortune he has had in his life.

I loved the idea of the entire song, and I still do. For me, living for today is all about making the most of the love around you and never being too scared to take that plunge. In fact, 'no day but today' brought me and my husband together. We were best friends and it would have been all too easy to put my feelings to one side, scared of ruining a wonderful friendship. The attitude I have picked up from years of listening to that song over and over again finally persuaded me to tell him how I felt.

I've also developed a bit of an obsession with a Darren Hayes song of late, in which he urges the listener to live every moment as though it's the last night on Earth. But it's got me thinking, how exhausting would it be if we actually did live as though there was no future? Thrill seeking and planet travelling aside, what would the emotional implications be of really seizing the moment as though it was the last?

For one thing, those close to us would start to find us a little cloying. We'd feel obligated to hug and kiss our loved ones on days when we'd really rather be alone, leading to inevitable bitterness. Everyone needs days to themselves, moments to put their needs before those of the people dependent on them. Also, would we ever get any work done? Do people claiming to truly live for the now do their own washing up or fill out their own tax returns when they could be gate crashing celebrity parties?

The idea of 'carpe diem' is one that we all throw around at some point or another, but very few people have the resources, or the desire, to maintain it as a lifestyle. Even me with my emotional interpretation of the idea. Of course I've passed up on things that would have made me happy, often through fear or lack of motivation. If I took up every opportunity I was given I'd be exhausted (not to mention very poor) before too long.

Living for the moment should, instead, be about living for those that you enjoy. The ones that you're truly invested in. It shouldn't be about feeling guilty that you're not taking enough risks with your life. Take the ones you want to take, and make the most of the opportunities that they present and never, ever punish yourself for doing what you want to do. Even if what you want to do is absolutely nothing at all.

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