About the Future

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay, American computer scientist, founder of the Palo Alto Research Center (born 1940)Nobody knows the future. No man does, anyway. To be knowledgeable about a time that doesn't yet exist is not within the realm of our possibility. We only know what has happened in the past and we act today, in the present. Of course, what lies ahead for us tomorrow is pretty much the result of our actions today, and therein lies the secret of preparing for the future.

All we have to do is act today.

Let's think about that for a moment. Take the example of a man who has been going to Alcoholics Anonymous for a few weeks following completion of rehab. He has religiously attended meetings, sought out a sponsor, and is trying to work on the first step. Something happens in his life that throws him for a loop. It doesn't matter if it's the sudden appearance on his doorstep of a drinking pal from the past or he just can't tolerate the cravings and urges anymore. He tells himself that he'll give in, just this once. He'll just have one drink, just go out with the guys one time, for old time's sake.

His future is pretty much predictable: He's going to relapse. Of course, this isn't a given. Every individual is different. Maybe there are some among us who can be staunch in the face of temptation, but most of us don't have that kind of fortitude. It isn't, after all, a matter of willpower. Once we've been addicted, our brains have been rewired. It's almost impossible to be anywhere around drugs or alcohol and not be drawn, against our will, back into that life.

Now, let's look at the next fellow in the rooms, maybe even a friend to our previous example. This individual, who has also been hit with some unexpected challenge, instead of giving into it and thinking that it's only one time, so it isn't really a big deal, recognizes it as a precipitous incline on the road to relapse. What does he do? He immediately seeks the advice and counsel of his sponsor. He doesn't wait for the next day or think he can talk himself out of it. He knows that if he doesn't act, and act now, he's a goner. With the help of his sponsor and fellow group members, and loving and supportive family, he's able to overcome this threat to his sobriety. His future will come about as a result of his taking appropriate action today. This doesn't mean he'll never be seriously challenged or that he'll never relapse. But it does mean that he's incorporated the kind of strategy into his recovery plan that proves effective for him.

We make the future by inventing it for ourselves. We invent it by taking the action today to attempt to realize the result we want for ourselves tomorrow.

What if we can't think of what we want for our future? What if we're stuck in today, just hanging on by the slimmest of threads? How do we get past this precarious situation and progress to the point where we can begin to think about what our life might be like if we choose this course of action or that?

Relax. Understand that this period of indecision occurs to each of us. It is especially prevalent in early recovery, but the good news is that with each passing day we are getting stronger. We are learning more and more about how to deal with triggers and cravings and urges in a much more effective manner. When we say effective, it doesn't mean that they don't occur. They will, that's almost guaranteed. But recovery isn't the absence of these things, it is how we meet them head on and deal with them in a proactive manner.

Yes, that means taking action, starting today.

Posted on October 12th, 2011
Posted in Articles

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