I’m sitting in the back of Rosie the VW Campervan at a campsite in Ireland and the family in the neighbouring tent come over to say hello and to meet Ted who is lying beside me on the bench seat. There are three children; the youngest, who I discover is called Liam, clings shyly to his Mammy’s legs. He’s four, she tells me, he’s just started reading and he loves comics. The Beano, mostly.
That’s great, I say. I love the Beano.
Tempted into conversation, Liam tugs at his Mammy’s arm as he launches into a complicated sentence about something he read two days ago.
The day after yesterday… he begins.
The day before yesterday you mean, Mammy laughs.
We talk about what’s happening in the Beano these days, I sign a book for them and they go to pack up their tent because they are leaving the campsite that afternoon. But I can’t get Liam’s phrase out of my head. The day after yesterday. It’s always the day after yesterday, I reflect.
Or, is it?
The more I think about it, the more I see how much of my life I have spent in the day after yesterday, looking backwards, living in the wake of what has already happened, defining myself in terms of past events: the little boy whose daddy died; the young man who could have had a glittering career; the middle-aged man who lost his wife.
The older we get, the more yesterdays we’ve had and the harder it is to think in terms of tomorrow. Living in the day after yesterday doesn’t help. It’s enervating and ultimately futile.
The trick, I’ve decided, is to live today.
Thank you Liam.