Look To This Day by Kalidasa
The Poem | The Poet | A Story | Poem Analysis
Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!
I had never been into any fist-fights like my brother and friends. Maybe I was too scared to get into one. And I always had a special respect for the friends who were more powerful. In the need of the hour, everyone always turned towards them. And they always helped the weaker ones. They were like heroes.
I remember the summer of 1997. That afternoon I saw the movie Karate Kid. That very moment, I knew this is the only thing that I want to learn in life. If Daniel LaRusso can do it, so can I. And towards the path of my glory, this was the only modus-operandi. I convinced my mom and she got me enrolled in one of the classes nearby. My mom is a smart woman, she convinced me to take the trial class first.
The whole night before the day I was supposed to join classes, I couldn’t control my excitement. The whole night I was envisioning myself in that off-white karate suit. I conjured up an image of myself as a savior for all my friends in the time of distress. I knew once I learn this no one will ever be able to bully anyone in the school. I knew I was going to be a messiah.
I borrowed my brother’s uniform for the time being until I get a new one for myself. He was already a blue-belter. There was something special about this piece of clothing, it was much more attractive than any of the frocks my mother got for me so far. So when I reached our class, the first thing our teacher did was replace the blue belt with the white one. That was a little demotivating, but not a problem. I knew I would work hard and reach the black-belt one day. And then we learned our first block with loud sounds of ‘hiyah’. That was pretty easy, I knew I could do it.
So when I returned from the class, my brother asked me how was the first day. I said, “let’s do some practice”. He suggested that I try punching the bag. But I insisted on a real fight. In the next minute, he hit me four times, until our mom came and stopped him before he could hit me on my face. I was totally knocked out and it took me the next ten minutes to understand how painful real fights are. I was so blanked out that I couldn’t even identify the spots it was paining. My mother just held me tight, till my brother got some ice to rub on the areas where he hit. In the next two hours, those areas started turning purple-black. Every pigment in those hemorrhages was the hue of my shattering dreams. A dream to be the biggest brat. Maybe I was too fragile for these things.
I was so sad everyone could see that on my face. Karate was my only dream, and that one minute fight gave me the reality check. And my dreams shattered like the house of cards. And everyone else always knew I would not be able to do karate.
Then came the comforting words of wisdom from my mother. She said, “Sure you can’t do Karate, but you can still live by the very philosophy that is the soul of Karate, that is, ‘live in this moment, have full concentration here‘. If you keep lingering over to the things you couldn’t achieve in the past, you will ruin the future. If you only keep dreaming about things you will have in the future without any action today, you will never reach there. Live in today, if you are satisfied today, these moments will be your history tomorrow. And it will be the base for your future. If not karate you can definitely learn something else. This something else will make you proud of yourself tomorrow”.
Kālidāsa was a Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language of India. His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas. His surviving works consist of three plays, two epic poems, and two shorter poems.
Much about his life is unknown, only what can be inferred from his poetry and plays. His works cannot be dated with precision, but they were most likely authored within the 4th–5th century CE.
To read more about Kālidāsa, click here.
This poem is a perfect word of wisdom for all the people. This tells you the importance of today. The fact that you are able to breathe, it gives you the list of possibilities, the buffet of the courses of action from which you can wisely choose the best one.
This poem tells you not to live in either past or future but in the present. Your present, if well spent, will be the happy memories tomorrow and a foundation stone for what is in store for you in the future. So it lays the importance of not being carried away by the past and future, and a reminder to look to this day because in today lies all the “verities and realities of your existence”