I was talking with my son earlier about something I’m working on self-improvement-wise that he is invested in – which is very sweet and means a lot to me. I was telling him about something I did today toward that self-improvement mission, and I heard myself say to him, “One day at a time. That’s how we make change happen.”
And I was struck by my own words – not because I’m so wise and brilliant, but because while I know this intellectually, I also know sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the big picture of change that it’s crippling. And even though I often live by (and encourage others to live by) the notion of “one hour at a time, one minute at a time if necessary,” for some reason it just struck my ear, mind, and heart differently today.
I think that was because it lifts up two things: the importance of a renewed daily commitment to change (which requires not only discipline but mindfulness and, to a certain extent, open-heartedness) – and it also offers up the chance to stop at the end of each day and acknowledge, “Hey. I did that. That was good. That felt good. That helped. Look at that. That happened today.” And it’s not about self-congratulations but rather encouragement, possibility, and hope – and again, mindfulness and being present to what happened that day.
I’m not Catholic, but I was very struck by Pope Francis’ words about peace in 2013: “True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely ‘façade’ which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment”. I think it’s that same notion that moves me about effecting change. And yes, certainly, as we’re working for change – and working for peace – working for anything that deeply matters to us, we hope and trust that over time, some behaviors will become intuitive and become part of our daily actions and feelings. But if we want to grow, we have to keep revisiting what we strive for, what moves us, what we seek, how we seek to be part of this world.
Let us strive be present: to ourselves, to others, to the world around us. And even if we don’t have it within ourselves to effect that change each day, if we’re still in touch with what we seek, that’s something very worthwhile.
May we find ways to show up, in whatever way we can, even in a diminished capacity, even just for a moment, and be present, one day at a time.