This I Believe

Barbara - Levittown, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 7, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: carpe diem

I believe in today.

When I was young, I made some very foolish choices. In my mid-twenties I found myself in a homeless shelter. My two young children moved in with their father. I owned nothing.

Every day for two months I followed the same routine. I would spend the morning looking for a job, and spend all afternoon trying to find a place to live. I had a four month deadline, then I would be forced to leave the shelter. I was lucky to be there at all.

After two months of doing this all day, every day, I broke down. I just couldn’t take it any more. I was so remorseful for the decisions that I had made that put me in to this position. I was so afraid of what was going to happen when the clock ticked down on my final two months. There was nowhere left to go.

Another woman who was living at the shelter came over to talk to me. I will never forget her words.

She took me by the hand and led me to a wall. She told me to put my hands on the wall. I put my hands on the wall and looked at her. She said to me “this wall is real.” I didn’t see her point. She said to me “Yesterday is all over. You can’t go back and do anything about that.” She then told me “You are afraid of tomorrow. All of the energy you are spending being afraid of tomorrow, all of the energy you are spending feeling sorry about yesterday…this is energy that you are not using to fix your problem.”

She continued. “Have you done everything you can today? Have you taken every opportunity? Have you worked as hard as you can?” I answered that I had. She told me “Then you are successful today. When you start to panic about what is going to happen tomorrow, remember: it’s not real. Today..this is real”

I was wiling to grasp at anything. I took her words to heart. I found that I was doing exactly the same thing that I had done yesterday. But when I was willing to let go of fear of tomorrow, I could handle whatever was in front of me today.

It took more than two months. I did find a place to live, a new job, a car, and eventually my kids came back home. We were very poor for a number of years after that. But I was able to do each day. Years later, with my feet under me, I find myself talking to other women. Single mothers who are having a hard time. I tell them my story. I explain that all you have to do is get to the end of the day. Do everything you can, take every opportunity, and never slow down. Just getting to bedtime when your life is falling apart makes you more successful than a millionaire. As long as you do that every day. Because every day is just today.