Now Is The TimePosted: February 3, 2012
Thirty-nine years ago when I first got sober, I was given a great tool to lead a happy, productive life. I was told to live 24 hours at a time. Since I was willing to go to any lengths to be sober, I tried to do exactly that.
Living in that 24 hour time frame was truly an adventure for me. At first, I thought I was losing my mind because my thoughts were so simple. Soon, I discovered that what I was losing was not my mind, but a lifelong habit of worry about the future and regret for the past. I do honestly believe that up until that time, I spent most of my thinking life in the past or future timeframe.
Living in the now seemed awkward and strange in the beginning. In retrospect, I see that it was the first step of a grand spiritual adventure. The tools I used were simple, practical and direct. There was no theory involved.
It meant noticing things I’d never really paid attention to before. I loved the way the bubbles in the dishwater popped and jumped. They almost hypnotized me when I really paid attention. The birdcalls were gorgeous, the texture of the tree and the scents of the flowers were equally thrilling. The simple things of life, which had never appealed to me, suddenly became rich and rewarding.
My life was also simple. I did what I was told. I got up in the morning and made a gratitude list. Then I made a to-do list for that day. When I accomplished something, I crossed it off the list. At the end of the day, I threw the list away and went to sleep, knowing that there would be a new list tomorrow.
Amazing things began to happen to me. I stayed clean and sober because I had always been able to lay off the booze for one day. Now that I was living one day at a time, I didn’t have to worry about anything else. I forgot about worrying that I would never have another drink and simply went to a meeting that day. I paid my bills on time because going to the post office was on my list. I wrote my books because my list included three hours in front of the typewriter. My life became much more satisfying as well as easier.
I stopped worrying about things I couldn’t control by staying in the present day. If some worry came up for me, I would ask myself, “Is there anything I can do about that today?” If there was something, such as a letter of apology to make amends or a visit to the market to buy healthy food, I did it. If there was nothing I could do that day, I released the worry and went on with my simpler tasks.
I discovered the power of NOW because I wanted to stay sober. Other people have discovered the wonders of being in the present moment when they begin to meditate or when they take SOM classes and learn that the power of God is always in the NOW. However we learn this beautiful lesson, it opens us up for a greater experience of life and much more happiness and peace of mind.
The Serenity Prayer remains the keystone of my spiritual understanding. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Because I now know that all things are possible with God and I am always with God, I now understand that the things I cannot change exist only in the future or the past. Certainly, I cannot go back and rewrite the past. I can only attempt to make amends where necessary today. I also cannot guarantee that I will build a great fortune or win an award for my writing. All I can do is work toward the direction of my dreams one day at a time.
I also understand that I cannot make other people change in the way I want them to. I am only able to change myself. It is true that when I change, others may change in response but that is not to control. They have their lives and I have mine.
There was a period when I thought the serenity prayer was kind of tricky. I would laugh and say, “The trick is in having the wisdom to know what you can change and what you cannot.” Once I thought it through and gained a little experience, I saw that I can change anything I can envision, believe and accept in the Now. That means that I must act on my dreams one day at a time and I can do it.
I am so grateful to the tool of living one day at a time. Over the years, I have achieved quite a bit including a big writing career, a successful church and a weight loss of over 100 pounds. In every case, I employed the use of staying in the Now to accomplish my goals. It worked for me and it will work for you.
Am I willing to keep my thoughts in the present today?
What’s on my gratitude list today?
What shall I do today?