The other day, for no apparent reason, I was struck by the concept encompassed within the word “someday.” The dictionary makes it short and sweet, defining it as “at some future time,” and noting such synonyms as “eventually” and “sooner or later.” Though it was “finally” that perhaps was closer to my own thoughts.
I believe what triggered this unexpected examination was thinking about a place I find wonderfully alluring—Big Sur in California—and telling myself, “I’d like to live there someday.” Then I suddenly recognized that now, much closer to the end than the beginning, my “somedays” are limited. What would have been at age 25 a reasonable fantasy that could realistically be translated into a reality, now must be tempered by a true expectation of how many days remain.
“Someday” is a word that defines itself differently depending on age and perspective. It roots itself in the concept of time, that relentless ticking of the clock and the cold fact that life makes no promises, offers no guarantees. Which leads to either willing acceptance of the inevitable end, or blind denial based in fear of the unalterable fact of death.But “someday” also can be a trigger, a notion that cracks the whip and says time may be shorter than you think, and, therefore, you should get on with anything you truly want to do or accomplish or experience. “Someday” says there is no wisdom at this point in life in waiting for tomorrow, in assuming a future that exists only as fantasy. Einstein saw it in coldly mathematical terms: “People like us, who believe in physics, know the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
In a recent New York Times article entitled “A Quantum of Solace,” Dennis Overbye revisits the long-standing debate as to whether time is real or an illusion. He wrestles with the way in which “the learned consensus keeps swinging between the yin-and-yang theories of existence: free will and fate, change and eternity, atomicity and continuity.”
Or maybe in a simpler form for those of us facing a shorter road, what our “someday” can be, will be or should be. What it means to stand in the fact of the present—the only solid foundation we have—and consider paths, weigh needs and desires, and move ahead with courage and conviction. There is, of course, the option of staying in place, letting life come to you and dealing with it. That also requires a certain type of courage, to accept things as they present themselves and make the best of them—or just hope for the best and accept fate. Regardless, the objective should be to strive to live fully and well.
In his article, Overbye mentions that John Archibald Wheeler, a visionary Princeton physicist, once pointed out that the future and the past are theory. These two elements of time, at least as perceived in our human experience, exist only in records and the thoughts of the present, the point in which all stories end and begin. This empowers the hope that “a single moment of insight or beauty or grace…can illuminate eternity.”
In that elegant sense, this concept of “someday” becomes a platform for standing on the edge and waiting to see what unfolds, or looking forward to what’s desired and taking steps in that direction, or maybe just plunging into the abyss and seeing what happens. Maybe I won’t be able to live in Big Sur “someday,” due to circumstances both in and out of my control. And admittedly there are other “someday” scenarios that strike my fancy, even as I accept the tenuous nature of my life and the uncertainty of tomorrow. But, then again, there’s always the comforting appeal of “never saying never.”
Any thoughts on “someday” and what it means to you? Comments are always welcome.
Click here to read the entire “Quantum of Solace” article by Dennis Overbye from the New York Times.