Live One Day At A Time
When I had cancer in 1981 I had to wait two weeks to get a CT scan, so
my doctors could determine the best treatment following my initial
surgery. Think about that. There I was, with two full weeks ahead of me
before I would learn what I assumed was very important information about
my condition and how it would affect my treatment and perhaps my life.
The situation that I faced is not unlike the future as it is often
presented to us throughout our lives. I had a choice, just as you have a
choice right now. There may be nothing we can do to "speed up" some
anticipated future event, but we have total control over the way we spend
A good friend, Virgil Jenkins, called and invited me to lunch and said
he'd drive me over for the tests. Over lunch, Virgil asked me in a very
concerned and caring way, as only a close friend can do, "Hal, what are
you going to do if the results of your test aren't as good as you've
expected them to be?"
When I looked at him, I could see that his question was prompted by his
honest concern that I be prepared for something less than the best news.
My answer was this, "Virgil, I know I've just lived through two weeks that
could have been pure hell. I could have worried and spent sleepless
nights. But I have slept like a baby every night. I've continued working
at both of my jobs. I've gone back to classes. And I've even gotten in a
couple of rounds of golf. So my answer to your question is that I've been
so busy, I haven't had time to think about the test or the results. But I
do know this: I've had two of the best weeks I could possibly have asked
Sometimes a cancer diagnosis is life's way of getting our attention to
focus on today. That's what happened to me. I got the message that every
day is so special I couldn't afford to waste even a minute of it. Living
one day at a time is the point!
Other than today, this moment, everything else we call living is
actually nothing more than memories or dreams.
Of course, I believe in making good memories and dreaming wonderful
dreams, but I have found that you can't have pleasant memories unless you
were living in the moment while yesterday was here, while yesterday was
today! And its equally true that the most hopeful dreams are not inspired
by what you are hoping for when you fall asleep, but by how you lived
while you were awake during the day.
Let's get practical. What are the steps you can take to stay focused on
the day? There are two general ways to relieve yourself of unwanted
concern that can interfere with fully enjoying today: accept your past and
trust your future. Accept your past. Trust your future. It sounds simple
and it is. Accept your past by releasing and letting go of past fears,
mistakes and grief. This is a new day. Trust that your future is going to
be good by making this day and every day a day you "live in the moment."