We say things like, “That was the turning point in my life.” What do we mean? Do we mean that life created a sequence of events that changed our direction? Do we mean that we made a decision that led to a big change, or do we mean that “Fate” or a “Higher Power” intervened to create a new path? Continue reading
We exist only in the present, and we need to learn to live in the present. We can’t affect the past, and we have no way of knowing what effect we may have on the future. We need to do our living today, concentrate on the present moment — on doing the next right thing — and let the future take care of itself. If we are always thinking about tomorrow, next week, next year — the next raise, romance, promotion or what have you, we are unlikely to do well at work, love, or life in general.
Every change we make in our lives affects the future, sometimes in big ways, and sometimes in small ones. I can’t know whether failing to buy new shoelaces today will result in a dangerous fall tomorrow.
I know that I’ve written about this before, but I had a few more thoughts.
If we examine our lives, all too often we may discover that we are “humans doing,” rather than simply humans being. Many of us find ourselves extremely resistant to slowing down and going with the flow — accepting what the world sends us without trying to live at top speed and influence every nuance of our lives. Perhaps we learned to speed through life because we became convinced somehow that we didn’t measure up in some way, that we had to race to some ephemeral destination to succeed, and that if we could only get there, we’d be okay.
“Every man is a bit player in every drama but his own.” ~ Moss Hart
The desire to control what others think of us is distracting. We concentrate on what we imagine that they think, try to improve on that, and forget who we really are.
But what others think is none of our business, and trying to control it is fruitless. The life that we really lead is what determines who we are to others; the important thing is what we think of ourselves. Giving up our grand role in our own story, looking within, and living a mindful life is the way to resolve the question, “Who am I.”
It’s amazing how easily we addicts fall into a bad case of the “if onlys.” Especially around the first of the year, when all those resolutions and good intentions come to the fore, we’re inclined to look at our past and measure it against some (usually imaginary) standard. Sometimes it’s a standard that we believe someone else held us to, and sometimes it’s one that exists only in our own minds. In any case, if we don’t get our heads back on straight, it can lead to problems.
In one of our books, we are promised that “We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” There is no question that things could have been different, but think about this: if we hadn’t been where we were, done what we did, and experienced what we needed to experience, we wouldn’t be where we are, and there is no guarantee that things would have been better.
I have two beautiful daughters whom I love beyond description, two beautiful grandchildren (ditto) and a wife who is far more than I ever realized when I married her nearly 34 years ago. I treated my first wife, the girls’ mother, badly. She should never have married me, and I feel badly that, as a result, her life turned out less wonderfully than she deserves. One thing leads to another, whether fortunately or otherwise. But that’s just the point. If we hadn’t married, we wouldn’t have the girls, the grandkids, and all the good things that come along with them. If we hadn’t married, I wouldn’t have met my present wife, the love of my life.
See, when we say “What if,” we change everything. It took every single decision I ever made, both good and bad, to get me where I am, and where I am is pretty darned good. Could it be better? Sure. But would I change things? Hell no! The risk would be far too great. Change one thing, mistake or otherwise, and you change everything that follows.
Each of us, addicts or Earth People, has a history. But, as it reads in a meditation book that I consult daily, “We don’t have to obsessively fill our present with the past to acknowledge our history. We aren’t there; we’re here. It’s not then, it’s now, and always will be.” (Answers in the Heart, Hazelden) That’s not to say that we should forget the past, and certainly we need to plan for the present, but we don’t have to obsess about either. Enough is enough. By learning to live “in the now,” mindful of what is happening this moment and not worrying about the past or the future, we enrich our lives, our relationships and, ultimately, become much happier people.
Isn’t that what recovery is supposed to be about?