I remember when I first started hearing the recovery slogans like, "First things first", "One day at a time", "Easy does it" and "Just for today", to name a few. I would hear people say that and think to myself, "uh huh…and then what?!!" It drove me nuts! I was one of those that would later identify with the words of Doctor William D. Silkworth when he said, "I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray." I was a "scoffer" straight out of the chute! I always felt like, (in early treatment), "those recovery people use slogans because they don't have a clue what else to say to me!" I would wonder, (in early sobriety), why people would say "just for today", when it was so obvious to me that my life was WAY more complicated than that! My life seemed to be a better fit for "and then what?!!" I would say, "Shouldn't I at least think about tomorrow? Shouldn't I at least plan?"
Well, fortunately I stuck around a while and began to learn the wisdom contained in each and every one of those slogans. But for now, let's look at "Just for today". I think that history gives us great examples of the reality of the here and now, or if you will, "just for today".
Some negative events in history:
End of October, 1929: The stock market crashed. Prior to this moment in time, many Americans were just living their lives. They had their homes, jobs and dreams for the future. Yet on that day, men were said to have thrown themselves to their death in New York City and through the Great Depression that followed, countless thousands lost everything and had to start over.
November 18, 1978: Hundreds of people thought they had found a religious utopia in Guyana, under the leadership of a man named James W. Jones, called Jamestown. On this day visitors came and disillusioned members decided to leave with them. Upon trying to leave all but a few lost their lives in murder/suicide.
April 8, 1998: Birmingham, AL - Tornado warnings had been issued. Everyone knew the drill when the sirens went off. But no one knew how bad this one would be. It was an F-5, with winds in excess of 260mph. It ran for 21 miles and was a ½ mile wide. 33 souls would be lost in a matter of minutes.
September 11, 2001: On this day men and women went to work, sent their loved ones on their way, and began planning their activities. On that day, terrorists dove down from the sky, (in planes filled with innocent people), flying directly into America's sense of reality & security… changing it forever.
December 26, 2004: It was a beautiful day and hundreds of thousands of people were going about their days work, some were on vacation, some sleeping - all thinking it was just another day. Then…the largest tsunami in modern history stuck, killing aprx. 230,000 and permanently changing the lives of millions.
Some positive events in history:
December 11, 1934: A man named Bill Wilson made his last trip to Towns Hospital for treatment of his chronic alcoholism, offered himself to God and found sobriety. He would later become a founder of a fellowship called Alcoholics Anonymous, through which millions would find freedom and life again.
1952: A man by the name of Jonas Salk developed the Polio Vaccine. He believed he had found an end to polio. He, his wife and his children risked their own lives to test the vaccine and ultimately changed the future for countless thousands.
December 1, 1955: A black woman named Rosa Parks was sitting on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and was told by a white passenger to move. That day…she refused. The decision made that day set in motion an entire change for civil rights…opening the door for a leader. December, 1955: Martin Luther King Jr. would take up this cause and from then until 1968, (one day at a time), he changed a nation! He opened eyes and his daily actions changed the lives and destinies of millions.
July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong walked on the moon! In one day, the boundaries that had existed for mankind ended and the possibilities became endless.
"Just for today" is the reality of living. I can plan and I can dream, but my tangible reality is in today, it is in the here and now. Let's look at a person I like to call "Hypothetical Betty":
Betty entered treatment and had a roommate. Betty hated her life and didn't think she would make it. But she decided to follow the suggestions she was given. She asked God to keep her clean and she prayed for others. She used a sponsor, read in her book, worked steps and participated in meetings. When Betty got her one year chip she was happy, but felt like she hadn't done much else or made any real difference for others. She didn't know of all the other lives affected by her decisions made "just for today" over the past year. Her roommate had observed that Betty was WAY sicker than her and had surmised that if Betty could do it, well, then she would too! Betty's mom, who had been dying from cancer, saw Betty get sober and had peace when she died. Betty would have a child that year, (who would grow up and later discover a cure for cancer, saving millions). A man named John, (that Betty never knew), made it home to his family the night Betty got her medallion.
Now, let's say Betty had decided to not listen and leave treatment rather than stick it out, ultimately leading to her relapse. Betty's roommate would follow her example and leave treatment as well. Betty's mother would die never having peace. Betty would never have a child, (and millions would continue to suffer from the ravages of cancer). John, (the man she never knew), would never make it home to his family. He would be killed in a horrific auto accident caused by a drunk driver…named Betty.
Here is what I have found: Just for today isn't just about me. It is for all the lives affected by what I choose to do today. I can't change yesterday and I'm not promised tomorrow. I have today and what I do in this day affects hundreds of people I will never know.