Back when I started trying to get sober about the time I started this blog, I didn’t have a crazy amount of respect for the whole one-day-at-a-time philosophy. I’d obviously come across it in popular culture, and had heard it repeated ad nauseam in sobriety culture, but I always thought it was for losers nothing like I.
I have a shit-ton of self-confidence. Dick swinging, I once went to a job interview carrying an acoustic guitar, which I played for the interviewers. The interview was for a gig in a kindergarten, but still, from their reaction, I’m pretty sure this was the first time this had ever happened, and it’s probably a safe bet that I’ll be the last to do so in their careers.
Armed with my cocaine-high-level self-confidence, I figured taking sobriety one day at a time was for people who weren’t going to be amazing at this, which I obviously was. I figured that philosophy was like training wheels for small kids. Don’t worry, guy. I’ll go ahead and skip the training wheels and go right for the big-boy bike. A helmet? Nah, I don’t need that.
Instead of making a daily goal every day of staying sober, I made the lofty goal of staying sober the rest of my life, and of course I was going to nail it, but more on this later.
Two years later, I have a much better perspective on the world and success and happiness. I now have much more humility, I have a little less self-confidence (which is probably a good thing), and I no longer think most problems can be solved by strumming a few open chords.
The biggest change in me is I’m taking sobriety fully seriously for the first time. I know what I’m up against, and how difficult it is to succeed. I’m almost making it #1 on my list of priorities.
Last week at Alcoholics Anomalous, the topic of discussion for sharing was this bumper-sticker philosophy of staying sober one day at a time. I mumbled some bullshit, and threw in a few jokes, and everyone laughed and learned nothing, which tends to be how it goes most weeks. My role in my AA group is similar to that of the court jester: you’re not going to learn shit from what I say, but by God am I wearing a silly hat.
Sharing on this topic last week got the cogs turning, and this week I had an oh-shit moment, where I realized how ridiculous it is to be working towards lifelong sobriety.
I realized that:
- That goal is never achieved. In fact, the moment it’ll be achieved is the moment your consciousness ceases to exist, so you’ll never be aware of its having been achieved. How’s that for a carrot on the end of a really long stick.
- You’re carrying the heavy responsibility of attempting to stay sober for time that doesn’t exist yet, and which might never exist.
In your mind, if you exercise and avoid high-fructose corn syrup and manage to abstain from smoking, you’ll make it into your eighties. So when you say you’re going to quit drinking for the rest of your life, you’re imagining the effort it takes to stay sober each of those days, which is in the tens of thousands.
Now imagine the effort it takes to stay sober just one of those days: today. Imagine unburdening yourself of thinking about tomorrow, and how you’ll stay sober that day, and focus on the now. It sounds like some Tony Robinson-level hokey bullshit, but it’s incredibly freeing. Instead of avoiding thousands of beers, you’re avoiding just the one. That first one that day. Besides, who knows? You might get a hit by a bus tomorrow, or struck by a boot on the end of an amateur fisherman’s line.
Take it one day at a time.
Thanks for reading! This post is less funny but not anymore serious than the posts I tend to write, but there are a few value bombs in there for entry-level alcoholics in recovery. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober. And if you laughed out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.
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