Different people might answer this in different ways. For instance, one might say, the most important thing in his life would be to get a good job. Another might say family is his key priority. A devoted person might attribute importance to God and religion. An educated man might say learning and science is the most important thing in life. A musician would say his music, an actor his art. But who is right?
Life goes by us quickly--more quickly than we know. All of the above answers are indeed very important for success. For happiness. But which is the most important?
And I am going to risk sounding like a sacreligious hypocrite when I say that my answer is none of these. For we all have different beliefs. Different values, different moral standards, different passions, different things that define who we are and who we will become.
This taken into account, when asked, 'What is the most important thing in life?' my answer is... leaves.
"Leaves?!" you ask. And I reply cooly, "Yes. Leaves."
Leaves thrive on trees. They appear first in spring. They absorb light from the sun, make sugars that nourish the trees. They remain all summer, and then finally in autumn they change into lush burgundies, oranges, maroons, browns, yellows, reds and even purples. They then let go of the tree from which they started. They let go in a fierce plunge to the ground in some cases, in others a gentle drift into the neighbor's yard. They are then raked up and put into bags to be disposed of for the winter. Some of the rare lucky ones get raked into big piles and jumped in and played in. They disappear for the winter...but they always come back.
What does this have to do with life? Absolutely nothing. And everything at the very same time.
As humans, we obviously are not leaves. But we have two choices. We can either watch the leaves in all their beautiful stages, or we can ignore them. We can let life pass us by as we rush and worry and complain while the leaves just sit there, waiting, hoping even that we'll notice their new, vibrant colors. But we keep going, never stopping to even glance at them as they change colors and forms, and especially not bothering to rake them into piles to jump in.
In Mico's on Thursday we took a quiz that told what type of person we are. One of the questions asked, "Do you live for today, or do you live for tomorrow?" There was limited time, so i thought hastily and checked the box marked "tomorrow."
For me lately life has been all about preparing for tomorrow--from studying for tomorrow's test, to filling out college paperwork, to planning tomorrow's activity, to making sure i can get good grades so i won't regret it tomorrow, to preparing myself to be married in the temple, to preparing to be a good mom, etc.....but what happens when tomorrow comes? In college I'll be working for a better tomorrow after college. When i'm married I'll still yet be working for tomorrow's celesital life. As a mom I'll be working so my children will have good tomorrows. And that's all well and good--but what about today?
What about the leaf that at this moment is falling, unnoticed from the big tree in my front yard. What about the wind that carries it over to the yard three houses away? What about the rain that tickles my face in soft, warm showers. What about the feelings that twist my heart in a million different ways? What about the stars that twinkle in the night, serene and peaceful here; burning, vibrant, firey millions of lightyears away? What about the light from the equally vibrant sun that streams into my window every morning and lights my face with warmth? What about love and friends, and those that care for me right now? What about my Heavenly Father who right now--today, in this very moment is giving me such a sweet sense of peace and love?
Life is too short to take for granted. To be so selfishly absorbed in tomorrow that you forget about the beauty of today--the beauty of what you have right now in this moment--is inexcusable. The leaves won't be here forever. Appreciate them. Love them while they're here. Play in them while you can. Watch them in wonder while they change.
And I'm not saying we should just throw away our future for it. We should prepare for tomorrow. It wouldn't do to just stop in the middle of what we're doing just to jump in a pile of leaves...(or would it? perhaps in some cases it would..) Anyway, what I'm saying is that we should find a common balance. A happy medium. Instead of "living for tomorrow" perhaps we should...
Prepare for tomorrow; Live for today.
And always remember to stop and watch the leaves...