For a writer, a blank page can be scary and daunting. It’s almost as though the blank page taunts a writer with writer’s block like a two year old sticking out her tongue. “Nanny, nanny, boo-boo,” the blank page seems to say whenever the blocked writer approaches.
To someone in recovery, every day is a blank page and every new day can be just as daunting as a blank page is to a blocked writer. One of the coolest stories that floats around AA meetings is when Bill Wilson was asked how long he’d been sober. “Well,” Mr. Wilson said (according to the story). “I woke up at six AM (06:00). What time is it now?”
“Ten O’Clock, AM,” said the person who asked.
“Well, then, I’ve got four hours sober.”
I’m not sure how true the story is, but it does highlight the need for everyone, including those in recovery, to stay focused on each brand new day and not get lost in what happened yesterday or confused by what might happen tomorrow. There’s no such thing as a person who hasn’t or that won’t make mistakes. By focusing on today, and more specifically, right now, we can provide ourselves the opportunity to do what the needs of the day demand. We can’t change yesterday. It’s been and gone. Tomorrow, in truth, may not come. All we have is right here and now and the blankness of the new day means that it’s ours to create as we want. It’s not easy because sometimes our actions of the past make the needs of the day very heavy. But, just like each word fills a bit more of an empty page, each moment lived in focused action fills the newness of every day.
That’s not to say that things won’t come up that can alter the actions we take. But, if we focus on what’s needed at every given moment, we can adapt without thinking that all is lost or that we have to start all over again on a new course of action. We can look at changes as new blank pages that need filling, or we can turn them into catastrophes and collapse under their stress.
We can choose to fear the newness of the day, or we can look at each day as a chance to begin again. If we screwed up yesterday, we can start again right now. That’s the thing: Right now keeps happening as long as there’s breath in our lungs. Right now gives us a focus that we can handle and allows us to begin again, and again, and again. We can do what’s healthy, right now, and let right now build into a healthy life. Or we can crumple against the sheer weight of time. If we look back too much, we will find regret. If we look forward too much, we will find failure. Or, we can do what we can, right now.
Blank pages are scary sometimes. But they are really good way to start again.