One Day at a Time

Last night I was chatting with my old sponsor. He's eighty-one, his health is not good and his finances are meager. He said "if it wasn't for 'one day at a time' I'd go coo-coo." I know exactly what he means. Death is approaching, but before death what? What if I can't get around? What if I run out of money? What if my wife dies before me? Who will look after me when I no longer can?

My ego thinks that it is its job to keep me focused on all that can go wrong in the future. It compels me to solve problems that have not yet happened -- to make plans for every potential pitfall. Buddha called the ego "the little house builder." It takes all my guilty thoughts and scary memories from the past and creates a fearful future. The house of thoughts it builds seems so real, so terrifying that I forget it is illusion. I have no choice but to travel into tomorrow and worry about what could go wrong. I get so caught up in trying to create security against a fearful future that I miss what's going on right in front of me. I miss Life.

One day at a time for me is no longer about not drinking for twenty-four hours. It is about staying present and realizing that today is all I have. It is about learning to trust that life knows exactly what it is doing. It is about taking my hands off the steering wheel and letting life unfold naturally. It is the calm assurance that regardless of what happens somehow everything will be OK, that my needs will be met. These attitudes are a result of the dynamic action of the 12-Steps restoring me to sanity. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer every day.

This doesn't mean that I sit on my hands and do nothing. I do myself a disservice if I don't plan. I still make plans, but I try to hold those plans loosely. A mountain climber doesn't keep his eyes fixed firmly up the summit. He glances up occasionally, but his attention is focused mostly on what is right in front of him, his next step. I have some general ideas about what I would like the rest of my life to be, but I try not to let those plans become so consuming that I miss what's going on in the present moment.