Tomorrow is Overrated

Recently, I have been seeing this commercial for Jose Cuervo tequila.  This commercial really makes me think: if somehow I knew today was my last day, what would I do?  What would matter to me at that point?  

At the beginning of the commercial, a news broadcast is shown, and the anchor encourages people to “hold your loved ones close.”  Then, it shows the bar patrons singing and dancing and enjoying each other’s company as the world literally ends all around them.

Money doesn’t matter at that point.  A man who grabs money off the bar and runs out is swept away in the disaster outside.  What could he have possibly wanted that money for? Perhaps if the world didn’t end, he would be a few dollars richer?  A meteor crushes a truck outside and the roof is blown off the bar where the patrons are singing and dancing.  The house we have and the car we have don’t matter at that point.  All material possessions are destroyed.

How many of us would be like that man who stole the money off the bar?  Would we spend our last day robbing banks, or stealing cars/jewelry/etc., so we could spend our last day surrounded by material wealth?  Would we go on a shopping spree, spending every last cent in our bank accounts?  Of course not, we think.  This seems pointless, facing the inevitable end of the world.  Indeed, this is how many of us spend a majority of our days–working, in pursuit of material wealth.  It also makes me think about the importance of being present.  Finding the beautiful in the mundane, everyday routine.   Finding some sort of joy in our work, no matter what our work is, is essential. If we’re always anticipating the weekend/summer/retirement, etc., we are missing out on what is happening right now. Not to be morbid, but one day we are not going to make it to the next weekend we are so anticipating.  And, as retirement becomes a distant dream for many in the middle class of this country, it’s becoming increasingly likely that this is how we will spend our actual last day.  More and more Americans expect that they will have to work until they die.

Most of us would say we would want to spend our last day with family.  While we say this, how many of us do not live this in our daily lives?  How many of us stay late at work regularly, prioritizing money over family?  Checking work emails after work hours and answering after hours calls and texts has become almost an unspoken expectation in the modern workplace.  How many of us, when we are with family, are on our phones, not giving our loved ones our full attention?  Parents, your kids notice.

Obviously, we can’t literally live everyday like it was our last day, contrary to the popular wisdom.  (Who would ever do laundry?!)  We certainly need to strike a balance between planning for the future and living in the present.  We should think about what it says about our priorities next time we spend an evening on our phones, in the same room as our loved ones, but not actually present.

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