Photo by Gerome Viavant on Unsplash
I woke up once with a funny thought.
First off, it wasn’t just me who woke up. It was a flabby, pale, broke version of myself. At least that’s who I saw gazing back at me through the mirror.
A Steven Pressfield quote entered my mind:
“The Daily Show reported recently that scientists in Japan had invented a robot that is capable of recognizing its own reflection in a mirror. ‘When the robot learns to hate what it sees,’ said Jon Stewart, ‘it will have achieved full humanity.'”
Hate is a strong word. Disappointment might be more accurate.
Another more optimistic and compassionate voice entered my head, bringing with it the funny thought: What if today was the first day of my life?
What would I do if I woke up today – with all my flab and none of my cash — and it quite literally was my first day on Earth? What if I was born today under these exact circumstances – this brain, this body, this location, with this knowledge and with whatever possessions I have. What would I do?
First off, here’s what I wouldn’t do: I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wouldn’t “hate what I saw.” How could I possibly? I was born today.
Next, I might thank (or more likely, question) whatever force brought me into this world. And if I knew any better, I’d give thanks for the one thing I wasn’t born with that everyone else around me possesses: A history.
A history is the difference between us and the person born today. A history to beat ourselves with. A history of failures to count. A history of opportunities lost and relationships messed up. A history of not treating ourselves well. A history of not respecting or loving ourselves. A history of remembering.
The person born today has no past – only a future and a present moment.
If today I was born flabby, I could start working out today.
If I was born pale, I could find the sun.
If I was broke, I could find ways to add value to the world and pitch myself as the one who could add that value.
What happened before this day is irrelevant. Today was the day I was dealt.
So I started going back to the gym. I’ve just spent the last week in Nicaragua to reunite with the sun. I pitched and applied for more work.
I remembered my agency. I temporarily forgot my history.
Isn’t this our opportunity every day?
According to science, it is – our bodies and our personalities are born anew many times over across our lifetime. And philosopher poets, like 4th century Greek Palladas, constantly echoed this truth:
“Day by day we are born as night retires, no more possessing aught of our former life, estranged from our course of yesterday, and beginning today the life that remains.”
When I think of today like the first day of my life, the disappointment disappears and the day has a new, magical quality to it. Full of possibility, with none of the baggage. It’s not just another day. It’s the first day. My first day. I’ve got a brand new shot at this.
Today, like everyday, is the first day of my life.