“JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime. (or 4 years)” —Kenneth L. Holmes
I am lucky. In times of trouble, I have a 12-step program to fall back on. Before you put your fingers in your ears and start going “la la la”, just listen. I’m not going to preach about religion or discuss alcoholism. I just want to share something good I learned to help me through my life.
Of course the point of a 12-step program is that we go through all twelve steps, admitting we are only in control of ourselves and not others; finding our Higher Power, or at least admitting we, ourselves, are not God; accepting that we’ve made mistakes and resolving to do our best to rectify them; learning not to hold on to resentments; and finally realizing that helping others helps us too. All good stuff. Studying these steps changed my life significantly, and I’m better for it. I even have an attitude I never knew existed: serenity (at least part of the time.)
The program has many slogans, maybe a bit corny on first impression, but actually shorthand for far greater thoughts. Let’s look at “One day at a time.”
A lot is happening right now; some issues we can weigh in on and others are determined by people, places, and things beyond our control. We feel helpless and our minds begin to play the What If game. What if I lose my medical insurance? What if prejudice becomes commonplace? What if the media can no longer report the news? What if science is gagged? These worries lead to What if people are persecuted? What if we become another Nazi state? What if climate change is left to destroy the earth? What if this is the beginning of World War Three? And let’s not forget the possibility of alien invasion or the zombie apocalypse. Worry is an infinite void, never to be solved, never to be appeased. What can we do about all these what if possibilities?
“One day at a time” teaches us to look to what we can do today, right now, leaving both tomorrow and yesterday to fend for themselves. Living in these small increments of time, we have a greater chance to accomplish something worthwhile, because ultimately tomorrow is totally dependent on what we do – or do not do – today.
Some days we can stand with millions in protest; some days we can smile at someone on the street. Some days we can write a letter, mail it, and let it out of our hands and into the hands of someone better equipped to deal with it. Some days we can go sit with a scared shelter cat and make his life a tiny better for our presence. Some days we can donate a little money or time to a cause. Some days we can rest and be thankful. Some days we can put on our big girl panties and fight.
One day at a time – sometimes one hour at a time, one minute at a time – it’s not just for alcoholics any more.