Updated November 18th, 2017.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly”. The Buddha
How many times have you heard the quote ‘live your life like it’s your last day on earth’? But how many of us do this? And is it possible? Surely if today was your last day, you’d spend all your money, travel to the place you’ve always wanted to, tell that boy / girl that you’ve been playing it cool with that you’re wildly in love with them and then get crazy drunk? Waking up with an outrageous hangover, when it really wasn’t your last 24 hours… well the day before doesn’t seem too practical now does it? Like those people who predict apocalypse, I’ve always wondered what they do the morning after? Over breakfast (dry cornflakes, they threw the milk out) “Damn, wrong again!”
So what does this concept mean in reality? To quote Pepsi “Live life to the max” or perhaps a little more respected, Buddha, “You are already dead. So the rest of your life is a bonus.” But how can we do this day by day? The thought-provoking book (and perhaps controversial) The Secret offers the analogy of the man in a car driving across the country in the dark. All he can see is the five metres that his headlights reveal, yet he is able to cover great distances by doing just a little at a time. But can we really live life like this?
Many people say that travel throughout South East Asia makes them appreciate what they have been born with and relish the present moment. This is a lesson that travel teaches us that can make us a better person if we keep our eyes and minds open. Somehow, the petty arguments with your sister seem ridiculous when you walk passed a rubbish dump in Cambodia and see sisters smiling and chatting together as they look for scraps amongst the debris in order to sell and pay for food to live another day.
But this is easier said than done. We’re all human and it is easy to forget. Some travellers I’ve met are already concerned about what they’ll do for a career when their backpacking trip has ended, rather than concentrating on the here and now. So many times we worry about things that will happen in the future. How many times do those worries materialise? Has there ever been a day so far in your life that you haven’t been able to cope with? You will always and can always deal with each day as it comes.
And I don’t think it’s about doing anything ridiculous. It’s not about selling everything and heading off to Mongolia (although it’s totally cool if you do that!). It’s about appreciating every moment on earth. I’ve got a friend back home who always says ‘Isn’t today a great day?’, ‘Isn’t this restaurant amazing?’, ‘Aren’t we having a great time?’ I love her to bits because she makes you appreciate that very moment. Look around you. Look at what you have. Yeah actually, today is a great day!
I’m not going to get all Eckart Tohle, The Power of Now, on you, as I don’t think it’s rocket science or a huge ‘Eat Pray Love’ awakening that people need (well most people). The majority of backpackers reading this now probably already agree with grasping life and living each day to the full, or you wouldn’t be here in the first place. So I don’t need to convince you. Have fun, don’t take things (or yourself) too seriously and be good to others. Is there anything else?
By Nikki Scott
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