"To act, that each to-morrow/ finds us farther than to-day." Poet and former UN chief Kofi Annan.
What is a life of stagnation? It is one characterized by this: To not act, that each tomorrow finds us no further than today. When we live today without any plan for tomorrow, we turn ourselves by default into vagabonds and drifters.
Of course, in terms of hours, today is no different from tomorrow. Every today and every tomorrow have the same 24 hours. 1440 minutes are given to each day and to every day; no more, no less. You can say that today is the identical twin of tomorrow, that is, the same in most ways.
But what differentiates them is not the duration of a day but its progression. In other words, it is what we put into today that makes tomorrow different from today. This is the bias that we ought to have for tomorrow in order to avoid the pathway leading to a life of a vagabond.
The former UN chief's quote urges us to make a difference in our life. More specifically, it encourages us to make a difference today so that we are drawn closer to our goal by tomorrow. For today will soon pass and what is done today will only be reaped tomorrow. Therefore, what becomes of our tomorrow will depend on what we make of it today. So if we make nothing of today, our tomorrow will then be indistinguishable from today. That's obvious, but what is often obvious can be made obscure by the obligingly oblivious.
The metaphorical significance of that quote is both poetic and inspiring. I see it as a life of closing the gap between the first step and the last step. And every step that we persist towards our goal is a step closer to it. That is why tomorrow distinguishes itself from today not by the hours it possesses but by the distance remaining to reach one's goal.
I guess this adds another metaphorical dimension to the oft-repeated quote that life is a journey. And this journey is undertaken with the joint ad-venture of our today and tomorrow with today being the means to tomorrow's end.
So what is a life of stagnation then - if I may revisit the question? It is a life where its today and tomorrow are undifferentiated not only in the hours and minutes but also in the distance remaining. Let me elaborate.
Imagine your today is the same as tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. And it therefore makes no difference for you to call your tomorrow today since they are one and the same. Imagine further that instead of finding yourself farther tomorrow than today, you find yourself exactly where you were yesterday as you are today and will be tomorrow, that is, you are not a step closer to your goal. Imagine again that instead of welcoming tomorrow to celebrate the realization of your goal, your tomorrow is a graveyard to them. Wouldn't this life then be a life of apathy, futility and even atrophy?
I guess in the end, the saddest irony is this, when we look back heaving our last mortal breaths, we find that we have forfeited or squandered away our future. All that defines our life is a stubborn unbroken trail of innumerable todays making its dour march up to our deathbed. And as we take a closer look at each day past, we realize that we have yet to take that first step in the journey we are destined for. For this reason and for this reason alone, for some of us, our tomorrow never really came. Cheerz.