One of my favorite quotations is: "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present."
When you learn to live each day as if it is a gift, the world takes on a different meaning. There is no room for regrets, no time for arguments, no place for envy or hatred and no energy wasted on trivial matters.
Perhaps it is because I'm old, but I find myself getting less and less able to tolerate people who don't prize their daily lives. Listening to folks complain about non-life-threatening aches and pains or bemoaning their boring lives makes me crazy.
Holding a conversation with someone who doesn't regard each day as a gift can be a huge waste of time. Her agenda isn't positive. She doesn't look forward to anything. She wallows in the past. And, worst of all, she is scared of the future.
One of my fellow shuffleboard club members made me laugh out loud the other day. He showed up for a match wearing a T-shirt that said "Bazinga!" Now, anyone who watches the "Big Bang Theory" on TV knows that Sheldon Cooper says "Bazinga!" whenever he pulls a fast one on his friends. The 80-something shuffleboard player was wearing that shirt because his granddaughter gave it to him. He had no idea who Sheldon Cooper was, but he liked the word. Every time he made a good shot that day, he said "Bazinga!" He turned an otherwise normal day on the courts into a gift of laughter.
A woman came to the water walking class at the outdoor pool. She was wearing a bathing cap that made all of us giggle. It was covered with bright purple flowers that bobbed and weaved when her head moved. Throughout the class, she was very noticeable. The instructor even commented on the cap, instructing us to "Follow the purple cap" when we went around in a circle. The woman smiled and joked with us about her cap. She said, "It's a great conversation starter."
When I recently took a pine needle basket-making class, one of my fellow classmates was in her late 80s. She told us, "I want to keep learning and keep challenging myself." Her attitude impressed me. I know that there are a lot of elderly people who think they can't learn something new. That's just wrong. You can learn throughout your life span. All it takes is the desire.
When my daughter calls to say hello, she always asks me what I'm doing. There are a variety of answers to that question. I find myself busy at something all day long - whether it is playing Scrabble or Yahtzee, doing Sudoku puzzles, making a new basket, doing housework, reading, writing columns, going to the gym or the pool, playing shuffleboard or miniature golf, cooking or organizing my recipes, sewing, shopping for groceries, planning a future trip, or even taking an afternoon nap. Sometimes I wonder where the day went. Before I know it, it is 9 p.m. and time for bed. My days are true gifts.
Whether you are wearing a "Bazinga!" shirt or a purple flower bathing cap, whether you learn something new on a regular basis, or whether your days are filled with varied activities, try to treat each and every day as the gift it is. Try not to get stuck in the past or become afraid of the future. The 24-hours right in front of you might be all you have. Live them well.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM  OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.