Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One Day at a Time...

One evening last week, I had the extraordinary privilege of hearing primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, speak on  A Reason to Hope at the Center for Performing Arts in Vancouver.

Although her presentation was inspiring and motivating, it was her presence that left the most lasting impression. Although the seventy-four year old was slight and obviously tired after speaking 300 days out of the last 365 to save her beloved chimpanzees, she was deeply grounded, still and quiet in a manner that I've rarely encountered other than in people who spend many hours in prayer or meditation.  Her's was truly an arresting presence.  And when asked from whence came her strength, she replied calmly that she took one day at a time.

One day at a time.  There are so many things we couldn't begin to face if we believed that we had to do them forever.  But one day at a time, that's a different thing altogether.  There's not much that we can't handle a day at a time.

I remember people asking how I coped with caring for my husband, especially during the last three years of his life when he was bed bound.  They couldn't understand how I could keep doing the same tasks day in and day out, to say nothing of dealing with the life-threatening emergencies that occurred on a regular basis.  "How did I keep going?", they asked?  Wasn't it overwhelming?

Well, no, it wasn't overwhelming, not on a regular basis anyway, because we lived our lives one day at a time.  Of course the days after the nights without sleep were pretty tough and the endless tasks were draining and boring and the emergencies were terrifying but each day had a beginning and an end and each morning offered a fresh start.  I found that as long as I worried about today today, and left tomorrow to tomorrow, I managed pretty well.  It was only when I started importing tomorrow's concerns that I got into trouble.

That is not to say that we should bury our heads in the sand.  Contingency planning goes a long way toward reducing anxiety but after the potential problems are identified and the plans made, it is best to store them on a shelf until needed and then return to the present.

As a chronic worrier who has improved with age, work and experience, I keep a card on my freezer that reminds me of the importance of staying in the moment and living one day at a time.  On it is a saying that goes like this:

does not empty
of its
It empties
of its

A good reminder for all of us. 




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