I clearly remember at age fifteen the first time that someone told me I was “burning the candle at both ends.” I’d never heard the expression before and wasn’t sure how I felt about it being applied to me—but I could see their point. That is what I was doing and it seemed exciting and clever, the prerogative of youth perhaps, but in the back of my mind I was concerned about my candle running out too soon. That perhaps I was off track and foolishly misusing or wasting my life. Of course at age fifteen I didn’t give it too much thought and quickly chose to live large now and that I’d figure out these deeper questions later. After all, I was having too much fun to stop now. The postponement of these sorts of important questions about how I choose to live my life was ultimately central to my later addiction. Looking back now I can see how I was trying, even then, to fit more, more, more, into each day. I was frantically pursuing more than normal, more than my share, and I could rarely get enough.
My life was all sizzle and no steak and it became a meaningless maze of chasing things that brought nothing of lasting value.
Recovery has shown me the valuable pleasure of a simple day done well. It has shown me how to live carefully and with a purposeful meaning that allows each day to contribute to something larger. “Slow and steady wins the race” was another one of those sayings that I dismissed without ever fully understanding and today I am glad to have been able to find the truth it contains.
My addictive mind still wants to make things happen childishly fast. Now! Now!
But the experience of recovery has shown me that the self-esteem and integrity of a good life is only built slowly and deliberately. Each day has small lessons and gifts of spiritual understanding that are available to me if I slow down enough to receive them. Today as I look back on the dramatic changes that recovery has brought into my life I can see that it all happened in part because I learned how to live one good day at a time.
An excerpt from the book A Year of Days – April 22