“There was a man walking across an open field, when suddenly a tiger appeared and began to give chase. The man began to run, but the tiger was closing in. As he approached a cliff at the edge of the field, the man grabbed a vine and jumped over the cliff. Holding on as tight as he could, he looked up and saw the angry tiger prowling out of range ten feet above him. He looked down. In the gully below, there were two tigers also angry and prowling. He had to wait it out. He looked up again and saw that two mice, one white, the other black, had come out of the bushes and had begun gnawing on the vine, his lifeline. As they chewed the vine thinner and thinner, he knew that he could break at any time. Then, he saw a single strawberry growing just an arms length away. Holding the vine with one hand, he reached out, picked the strawberry, and put it in his mouth. It was delicious.”
I read this parable years ago. The moral of the story seems to be that all we have is the present moment, and we should strive to enjoy what we have. It also brings to mind the following poem:
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is Yesterday with all its mistakes and cares,
its faults and blunders, its aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
we cannot erase a single word we said.
Yesterday is gone forever.
The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow
with all its possible adversities, its burdens,
its large promise and its poor performance;
Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow's sun will rise,
either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow,
for it is yet to be born.
This leaves only one day, Today.
Any person can fight the battle of just one day.
It is when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down.
It is not the experience of Today that drives a person mad,
it is the remorse or bitterness of something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.
Let us, therefore, Live but one day at a time.
Conversely is Aesop's fable of The Ant and The Grasshopper:
In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "We have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger - while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need.
As the Autumnal Equinox approaches and day and night are once again balanced out, I hope you find the time to appreciate each individual moment, Draw from it as much as you can, because you'll never experience it again.