“The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.” –Blaise Pascal
As adults who have schedules to keep, events to plan, milestones to achieve, and a vague sense of when those things need to be given priority, time is something we have a pretty firm grasp on even though most of us would admit that the lack of time is one of our biggest disappointments. Time is ever-present in our minds. We know how much time it takes to brew a pot of coffee and how many minutes it takes to get to work. We know how many years it has been since we graduated from high school and about how many weeks it has been since we called Mom. But there are other elements of time that we struggle with: how to use our time to the fullest, how to make sense of the limited time we have, how to prepare for tomorrow while living today, or how to honor the memory of yesterday without sacrificing the importance of the present.
|My schedule is never really this full, but I know some who would say this is a light day.|
My daughter, on the other hand, is still young enough that she hasn’t quite figured out the nuances of time. Anything that happened previously happened “yesterday” even if it happened that morning. Anything that has been promised to her in the future (like a trip to
Disneyland) is “sometime when [she is] older”. It is such a simplistic interpretation of time. I sometimes find myself trying to correct her or at least coax out of her which “yesterday” she really means so I can follow what she is saying. But I wonder if I should just let her figure it out on her own? She seems completely satisfied not knowing the difference and I can’t really say that I am happier or that I make better use of time than she does. One thing I cherish about this time in her life is that everything that happens to her happens in relationship to the “right now” of her life. It's as if kids can't help but seize the day.
|Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - First Blooms!|
While in my garden yesterday - and I do mean yesterday, as in the day before today - I noticed that a plant I bought and found a place for last year had finally bloomed. Seeing this otherwise nondescript plant finally in bloom made me remember the two reasons why I brought it home in the first place: 1. When in bloom it looks great and 2. It has a name that makes me happy: "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." Although my pictures don’t do it justice, the looking great part should eventually be self-evident especially as it increases in size and the blooms multiply. Even though I can’t seem to take a good photograph of a blue-blooming plant, I can try to explain why I think the name is so great. It is called Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow because each individual bloom spends about a day of its life dipped in purple then the next day it turns blue, and the following day it turns white. On any given plant you will see blooms at all three stages.
|A "Yesterday" Bloom.|
Are we homosapiens not unlike this plant? One day we are young like my daughter is and life is a brilliant purple haze. Seemingly too soon we find that the color of life has changed. Life is still wonderful but we see it differently. Things aren’t always so vibrant but there is an enduring beauty to life and by recognizing the changes we go through it helps us appreciate what we were and what we are becoming. And then, before we wither away entirely, we relax into a pleasing pure white.
I know that’s an overly simplistic timeline of life. I also know that the truth is that as we age we still have the capacity to feel younger than we are. Take a kid to a professional baseball game or take them trick-or-treating, watch them open presents on Christmas morning and you'll feel that youthful magic again. And sometimes we feel older than we are. Like when a teenager finds a cassette tape in the car and asks “what in the world is this thing?” Or when we find ourselves talking about IRAs with our friends at the bar instead of joking about whatever young people joke about these days. All these feelings and thoughts, these stages in life, these different colored blooms, can, and do, happen to us all at once.
|Hiding in the background is a "Today" bloom.|
To me, this is one of the greatest joys in gardening: if we are willing to occassionaly overlook the chores that need to be attended to and just experience our gardens, we can find symbols, metaphors, analogies, and morals to take with us when we leave the garden; each truth being a different colored bloom for all the yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows in our life no matter what color they are.