My name is Alison and I believe my survival – physically, financially, and emotionally – is in the simple act of doing what I can in each moment of each hour within each day. Every time I am tempted to give in to the increasing list of things I am not able to do, I employ the act of will to identify and actively pursue the constructive things I can.
Simple choices of will can make every day, in all of life’s complexities, more than something to be survived or conquered or even experienced in adventurous ways. It sounds trite, I know, but recognizing what I can do and doing it, brings my focus to one of the most basic truths for me, peace and happiness are not in the circumstances of my reality but instead in how I choose to perceive them and what I can do about them. Of course this is the message of the Serenity Prayer. As an adult child of a recovering alcoholic I have always associated this prayer with addiction. If I could I would tell my father, now deceased, I get it.
Beyond my limited sphere of influence I can’t even begin to know how to fix the world’s many problems… every front is daunting. But this reality should not preclude me from being aware. I can watch and read and listen. On the home front the list of what I can not do is lengthy. As a college professor I increasingly hear from students who worry they may not be able to return next semester due to financial stress. I wish I could pay the tuition for each one of them. What I can do is give them their money’s worth in every class I teach. I can avail myself to their questions about what they are reading and writing in my courses, and sometimes just about life in general.
I reached my 50th birthday in December and I intend to spend all of this calendar year celebrating this milestone. What will you do, my friends ask – the possibilities are endless. Will you return to Africa to see friends made when you lived there? Will you raft down the Colorado River or hike the Appalachian Trail? Maybe you could bicycle across some section of the country or climb a mountain? I smile and say, “I’ll do what I can.”