Today Is All We Have

The framed picture of a skeleton stands fixed on my desk — his crossbow points directly at me. By his foot rests an hourglass with a message that reads:

My arrow, I assure you, spares no person.

You will all dance to the song of which I sing.

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase associated with Stoic philosophy meaning ‘remember that you [have to] die.’

The picture on my desk inspires me to be fearless, to pursue the dreams placed in my heart, and to never take this life for granted.

Perhaps more importantly, it tells me to be grateful for today.

Love what you have and who you are right here. Right now. On this step of the journey.

My travel photography hangs above the picture of the skeleton with his drawn out bow, besides a replication of an 1800s Japanese print.

A pilgrim crosses a red bridge to reach the small red cottage on the other side of a flowing, cerulean blue river. The land is icy and draped in snow; the sky is grey and wispy.

Below the pictures rest my favorite books on history, travel, philosophy — books that evoke the fullness of life.

I look at what I have before me: the skeleton, the memories I’ve captured, the row of worn-out books, the beautiful Japanese print — and I feel a deep sense of joy.

They portray who I am, and who I long to become. I know that whatever happens in this life, I have so much.

It’s not the things that make me happy — it’s what they represent.

The authors who wrote the books, many of my favorites, strove to live with the entirety of their heart and soul while on this Earth: a few being Anthony Bourdain, Ray Bradbury, and James A. Michener.

The pictures of my own travels represent the different cultures that fascinate me; European trains in motion through my favorite cities and birds circling ancient Gothic cathedrals; symbols of where we’ve been, the good and bad of history which we mustn’t ever forget.

The Japanese print reminds me of my love for art, for rich colors and intricate details. It reminds me of what’s out there; peace, stillness, serenity worth seeking.

The solitary pilgrim crosses the red bridge to reach the Haruna Temple of Japan’s Kôzuke Province. What goes through the pilgrim’s mind, I wonder.

Perhaps they have nothing but their faith. Faith is all they need. They’ve reached the sanctuary amid the falling snow, hearing nothing but the sound of mountain wind and the beating of their heart.

These tokens of beauty, of effort, of nature and history stir up my spirit; that which wants to wander this Earth in lightness and love.

We have a reason to pursue what we love, to embrace responsibility and challenges. Because doing so makes every day meaningful. It’s easy to see today as just another day; there will be many more just like it.

But what if there won’t be?

What if we could live as if today were our last day, ever day?

We might truly be present at a jovial dinner with friends. We might tell a co-worker what they mean to us.

We might laugh from the depths of our soul, cry because it feels good to do so, and watch the burning sun dip below the sea.

Today isn’t like any other day. It is a gift from some unknown source — it is a beautiful mystery that is yours to explore in its fullest capacity. Maybe yesterday wasn’t the best; maybe you don’t know what to do with your future.

That’s okay — it’s all okay.

I look back at the skeleton — he dares me to give this moment everything I have.

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