When I took my first meditation class, I was struck by one of the teacher’s stories.
He told us that somewhere in Tibet, Buddhist monks and nuns would turn their glass of water upside down, blow out the candle next to their beds, and fold their clothes before sleeping in case they don’t wake up the next morning.
Ten years later, I vividly remember this story. As a procrastinator myself, it reminded me of the one thing that was missing in my life: not realizing that there might not be a tomorrow.
As a result, I would put things off until I either forget about them or naturally make them more messy. And sometimes, I would avoid doing things for a long time that I end up regretting later (like losing the SD card that had all the images I said I would copy).
Buddhism has thankfully taught me a precious lesson: never procrastinate because I might not live to see another day. According to Buddhism, uncertainty is around the corner. When we don’t do things now, it means we think we have time. The truth is we don’t.
We don’t have time.
We only have this moment that won’t come again. When we don’t mindfully use it, we end up angry, distressed, or pressured. How many times do we say, “Ah, I don’t have time,” or “I’m so busy,” or “I wish I could do this or that.” And if we come to think about it, we spend so many hours mindlessly scrolling on the phone or watching Netflix.
Buddhism has taught me that, after all, I might not be so busy. If I learn how to mindfully and skillfully manage my time, I could make good use of it and finish my day by “turning my glass of water upside down.”
This quote by the Dalai Lama has also tremendously helped me with trusting (and being okay with) that tomorrow might never come:
“You must not procrastinate. Rather, you should make preparations so that even if you did die tonight, you would have no regrets. If you develop an appreciation for the uncertainty and imminence of death, your sense of the importance of using your time wisely will get stronger and stronger.” ~ The Dalai Lama
What have you been procrastinating? Maybe it’s time to stop putting it off and live every day as if it were your last.