Free Ice-Cream Tomorrow!

Georgie Browne

Georgie Browne


I woke up this morning still basking in the warmth of yesterday’s teachings. Some of the most inspiring beings I’ve met live in an eco-village over 100 miles past Bordeaux — Plum Village Monastery.

Yesterday some of the monastics from Plum Village held a gorgeous mindfulness retreat here in Cork. As soon as my bare feet quietly stepped across the wooden floor of the 175-year-old Alma Maxima hall, I landed back in my body. A familiar warm, nourishing coherence came over me.

And my soul smiled; it is still beaming.

So many nuggets of wisdom, reminders, and loving words drew a big golden circle around me.

One of my favourite stories, you might already know: it’s about a man with an ice cream van…

Each day, he pop’s up a sign which says:

Free Ice Cream

The thing about the sign is that it never changes. And tomorrow never comes.

Isn’t there something exciting, hopeful, and joyous about the prospect?

Free ice cream tomorrow — great! 🙂

But what is it about the future that is so alluring?

Let’s get the ice cream now!

Now is delicious.

Image of an ice cream van to visualise a story about a man with a van that sells free ice cream

"The present moment is the substance with which the future is made. Therefore, the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. What else can you do?"

My favourite thing about Zen Buddhism is its simplicity.

Thay’s beautiful teachings moved me so much that I promised to do my very best to live my life in alignment with them. So much so five years ago, I took the layperson’s vows.

Last August, I had to choose between moving cities — to a quirky house in my favourite place in the world or the opportunity to live and work in community with the monastics in France for four months. Layperson places on long-term residencies are extremely limited, and it’s not always possible to head off on a sabbatical from work, but in that chapter of my life, I had a chance. So I had to dig deep and make a choice.

My longing to learn more from the brothers and sisters was strong, yet something inside gently nudged me to West Cork. And although I’d dreamed of getting the opportunity to live at Plum Village, I knew what to do.

The practice of no waiting

At the time, my calling to learn more was, on one level, a way to put off moving forward with the areas of my life I was frightened of.

Yesterday one of the Sisters talked about the practice of ‘no waiting’. We can have a plan for the future; of course, we need to.

Yet often in life, we can think, “I’ll be ready when X happens”. Or “If only Y, then I’d go all in”.

Putting no waiting into action​

If we get very real with ourselves, there’s likely something we’ve been avoiding. Instead of dwelling on what’s holding us back, take care of what is here now.

If you have identified something that’s a free ice cream tomorrow scenario in your life, here’s a three-step plan to get to the yumminess.

Step 1:

Consider this, what does it feel like to take a step toward one thing you’ve been putting off?

Action step: visualize the sense of accomplishment and joy that you will feel when you do the thing.

Step 2:

How can you shift your perspective to see the many obstacles (or excuses) as opportunities for growth?

Action step: embrace a mindset of curiosity and make a list of the roadblocks and some possible solutions to each one.

Step 3:

What small, manageable step can you take today to move closer to your aspirations?

Action step: Write down actionable steps (a plan) from the solutions list, and as you take steps, celebrate each one.

Is there something you want so badly, but it feels just a little beyond your reach? There are too many cliched quotes coming to mind — take the first step, and the path will emerge; nothing worth having comes easy…

I reckon: If you want the ice cream, don’t wait.