You have already lived every single important day of your life. You have been alive on the day you will die, and on the day you will graduate college, and on the day you will meet the love of your life, and on the day you will encounter a stranger who becomes your best friend, and on the day of your worst day ever, and on the day of your best day ever. You have seen all of these days, but not all of these dates. You have seen every day of every week, every week of every month, and every month of every year you have been alive. You have seen quite a lot in all of those days.
Every day is either “today,” “tomorrow” or “yesterday” until we find something to make it more significant than that — something that sets it apart and makes it an unforgettable date, not just another day.
In approximately 10 hours, the clock will tick from 11:59 to 12:00, marking the arbitrary shift from July 26, 2015 to July 27, 2015. Today, July 27, 2015 is tomorrow. It is just tomorrow. Nothing stands out about the day, so for now, in my small universe, it is just another tomorrow. But every day means something to someone. Tomorrow someone’s life will change forever — someone will get married, someone will have a baby, someone will try the best cup of coffee they’ve ever tasted, someone will get in a fight and storm out of the house, someone will set sail on a 67 day voyage, someone will receive the worst news they’ve ever heard, someone will get that promotion they’ve been waiting for, and so very much more. These things happen on these dates that are so arbitrary until they’re just not — until they mean something, until the passing of this day on all the subsequent years means so much more than it ever did before, like September 11th or July 4th.
Right now, we have seen all of the days that will matter someday, but we have yet to recognize them all. It’s impossible to know a day matters until it just does. My mom experienced 31 unique June 13th’s. On her 32nd June 13th, I was born. I experienced 18 June 15th’s. On my 19th June 15th, my grandfather died. I experienced just one February 8th, but on my second I became a big sister, and on my 10th May 25th the same thing happened again.
Next June 15th will be the first in my lifetime that does not overlap with that of my grandfather. All the other June 15th’s with granddad never meant much, but the first without him will mean a lot. I imagine that on June 15, 2016 it will be easy to forget that such a date means something to millions of other humans in this world. For some it will be a great day, for some it will be the worst day, and for millions of others it will be just another day. You see, we have no idea when tomorrow’s “just another day” will become one of next year’s milestones.
The idea here is of course a cliche one: time just doesn’t seem to matter until all the sudden tonight’s sunset will bring about the inevitable sunrise of the date that changes your whole life. You’ve seen this day before, but now its date is marked with a memory, no matter how grand or terrible. And no matter what happens on the date that is no longer just another day, time just keeps going. The seconds tick by relentlessly and eventually all of your great and terrible days are blended together into a mess of tangled lines until finally one of those ordinary days sticks out as an important date.
Last June 15th I worked. It was my third summer as a landscaper at a zoo and June 15th was just another day in the dirt. I had no idea what the same day would bring the following year — and honestly, like most people, I gave no thought to the idea of what that exact day would mean to me in 365 days. But now all of my subsequent June 15th’s will be one years, two years, eleven years, twenty-seven years, since granddad died. Last June 15th granddad probably worked too, without any clue that his body was planning to wage an internal war against him in just under 300 days. So he lived on June 15, 2014 without any idea that he would die that day — that on June 15, 2015 people would cry over him and his house would fill because of him and the earth would seem so much worse without him, especially in those first few days. June 15th has come and gone, and it is on its way back. In the meantime, there will be many other dates that matter to me and to you and to our communities and our nations and our world. There will be dates that break us and dates that put our heads in the clouds. But until those dates come, tomorrow is just another day, so we should live it as such.
July 27, 2015 is meaningless to my knowledge. But maybe on July 27, 2057 or July 27, 5610 we will discover a cure for cancer or the world will explode. You just never know what the next one will bring, but with hundreds of days between each, all we can do is keep moving and marking those seemingly arbitrary seconds that tick on as a form of measurement until, suddenly, they tick on as a form of memory.