each morning he awoke with a sense of urgency, remembering all the tasks that should have been completed yesterday. today there were those tasks, plus the new ones that had to be done before this day came to an end. he made lists of all that must be accomplished in order for today to be considered a success. he carried his day planner with him everywhere, lest he forget some important appointment. once he began one of the listed jobs, he saw more all around him that needed to be done. how could he possibly cram all this work into one day? yet he had to; the lists told him so, and now there were new items that he had just noticed on the lists. at the end of the day he collapsed, exhausted and frustrated that everything had not been completed and some items on his lists had to be carried over into tomorrow. what a lousy day it had been, and the next day would be much the same.
each morning he awoke, looking forward to the new day. he thought about the most important task that he could accomplish on this day. as he considered the several tasks that might engage him, he prioritized his mental list. some jobs were more urgent than others; those were the ones that would engage him first. the others could be deferred to another day if need be. he checked his appointments for the day so that he could organize his work around them and made certain that the day would have a flow that left him time to relax between jobs and meetings, and he began this day, as he did each day, with some quiet time for reflection and meditation. at the end of the day, he took stock of what had been accomplished and gave thanks for the good day he had enjoyed. he knew that tomorrow would take care of itself and looked forward to moving on to some of the work he had put off on this day.
these are the stories of two friends of mine, one whose life is filled with frustration and suffering, the other who is happy and at peace with himself and the world. i've learned much from both of them, and it's obvious which i try to emulate. why do we fall into the "if-only" trap: if only i could get all this done, i could be happy, if only there weren't so much that had to be done, i could be happy, if only there were more hours in the day, i could be happy. let's forget if only. let's rejoice that there is fulfilling work to do and be happy in that work. let's complete the most important work and then give ourselves a pat on the back because it's been done before moving on to the next job on our list. let's give ourselves time for gratitude throughout each day. let's remember that peaceful rest is as important--maybe more important--than keeping our noses to the grindstone.
may we all figure out what our priorities are and put first things first. may each day be regarded as a blessing that might not have come to us. may we find reward in our work and be grateful for what we're able to accomplish. shalom.