“Can we start it all over again, this morning?”
-Beck, “Morning Phase”
I remember it every time I smell laundry detergent: a little sign that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” It hung in our utility room, in my first childhood home. As a young kid, I was almost hypnotized by it—I couldn’t exactly explain its meaning, but I loved the phrasing of it. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” It didn’t rhyme but it was certainly rhythmic, so it felt like poetry.
The idea, of course, is that the past has passed; yesterday no longer exists. Today, however, is a new beginning, as all “todays” are. It’s as full of newness for me at 44, as it is for my father at 80.
But do we really believe that? Is today actually as full of newness for each of us, regardless of age?
On the one hand, no, of course not. The newness of possibility my aging, retired father wakes up to this morning is totally different than mine. He has so much more earthly life behind him than he does in front of him—whatever he does today cannot possibly overwrite his past enough to make a real difference in the narrative of his life.
On the other hand, though, yes. Each of us this morning faces the same 24 hours as everybody else. My father does at 80, and I do at 44. Today is the first day of the rest of our respective lives.
The difference, as usual, depends on our mindset. We discount the universal possibilities of today whenever we think we have to make up for yesterday, or a lifetime of yesterdays.
As if we could. Faced with that impossible task, any one of us could justify crawling back under the covers and calling it a day. Summoning up the courage to stand up and show up, though, regardless of how we’ve spent the number of days in our history, that enables us to call today something else: The first day of the rest of our lives.