How to Live Today Well: Wisdom From a Kung Fu Turtle

December 27, 2015

It was our first time alone together since baby Sasha was born. My mum was looking after him, so Irina and I had the morning to do whatever. We popped into the supermarket to get snacks, and wandered aimlessly among the isles, looking at things, chatting, messing around. We were on holiday.

When eventually we made it to the car, it felt as though I were being awoken from a dream. ‘It took 3 quarters of an hour to buy three things!’ I said, seeing the time. Then it hit home. ‘Ohhh, so that’s what we did with our time before Sasha was born’. We took five-times longer to do everything, because we could.


Having a baby has undoubtedly been one of the greatest things that has happened to me. I never imaged a person so little could change my life for good in such a way.

It has been an adventure. There has been an abundance of sun and laughter, and challenges and changes too.

I’ve learnt an important lesson from this period in my life.

During the more difficult moments of being a new dad, I began to notice a tendency I had to wish that time would speed up. When Sasha would cry a lot at night, I wanted him to be older so I could sleep better. When he was crawling I wanted him to walk so I wouldn’t have to carry him all the time. And now that he delights in using his lunch to glaze our furniture with a bananery sheen, I wish he was mature enough to understand it doesn’t help me be happy.

When life presents challenges and difficulties – even if they’re not life threatening ones – it’s really easy to start wishing our days away.

This is pretty tragic, that I would consider exchanging my son’s first few months in return for an easier, less messy and quieter life. (Irina says she would happily make the transaction for the quieter bit alone).

Similar thoughts might have entered your mind in the last few days. I wish I could be done with this job today, everything will be much easier. All I need is to earn more money, then I’ll enjoy life. If only I had a boyfriend, then I will be happy.

You may well be right – things probably will get easier when a certain thing changes. But there will always be challenges in some area of your life, no matter what season you’re in. When you hit the next difficulty, you’ll only start longing for time to fly again.

If we don’t embrace what is happening today, but wait for things to become just the way we want them, we could easily wait away an entire lifetime, wishing, instead of living.

On the other hand, if we accept the season and refuse to be blinded by discomfort, we will see the good that surrounds us, and take opportunities we would otherwise have missed.

Living in the past

When things get a little bumpy, we also have a tendency to long for past pieces of our lives.

This morning I got on a plane and now, as I write I’m on a train to Norwich where I went to university. I’m meeting a friend for a couple of days. It’s always a little strange going back to such a familiar place, while being in a different stage of life to that which I associate it with.

I know I will only enjoy my trip if I accept that that time of my life is over. I won’t try to recreate it. I’m no longer a single student, I’m a husband and a dad with a job. I’ve got great memories to treasure and some friendships I hope to keep, but that stage of life is gone.

Some of us constantly live in the past, yearning for the way things used to be. This only creates frustration and misery, because like sand pouring through our fingers – we can never have the past back like we remember it.

We become blind to beauty and opportunities surrounding us today.

One way to stop borrowing a nest in the recesses of time, is to believe that there are good things on their way for you. Your future is bright, if you’ll only be bold enough to walk into it with your eyes open.

There are fulfilling friendships, exhilarating adventures, and incredible fun to be had. But you can miss it all if you choose to build a home in memories of ‘the golden days’.


Sometimes courage is needed to commit to today. But embracing whatever season you are in is crucial if you want to be happy, grow, and become a better person.

Whatever today looks like, it was made especially for you. If it comes with pain, boredom or obstacles, don’t hide in the past or teleport your mind to the future. You have what it takes to overcome, and it is in doing so that you will become the person you long for. You cannot attain the life you want by hiding, but by living today fully and well.

Kungfu Panda is a favourite film of mine. I will leave you with some poignant words from that wise old turtle, Master Oogway.

‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.’

Thanks for reading – it really means a lot. If you found this helpful I’d love it if you could share it with your friends.

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