One Day at a Time

March 17th, 2023

“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!” 

“The real joke is your stubborn, bone deep conviction that somehow, somewhere, all of this makes sense! That’s what cracks me up each time!” – Heath Ledger, as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’

I know an old man. He’s a bachelor and he lives with his brother. I used to visit the two guys at their home, the same house where they grew up. Upon my arrival, I would ask what I always thought was a normal question. I would say,

“What’s new?”

The old guy would snort and shake his head. Then he would growl,

“What’s new? What could be new?”

What indeed?

These two old men have always made a point of living simple, uneventful lives. For the most part, there never was anything new at their house. Each day was basically a repeat of the previous one. There is nothing necessarily wrong with a quiet life. I have come to the conclusion that excitement is overrated. I wouldn’t mind a few days of boredom.

Alas, the does not happen at our house. We exist in a perpetual state of barely controlled confusion. My wife and I are retired, and often retired people have humdrum routines. We don’t. Part of this is due to the fact that we the primary caregivers for our two-year-old grandson. Toddlers, like the Joker, are agents of chaos. If you need to watch over an energetic and clever little boy, don’t make any other plans for the day. Your schedule is full.

There are other factors that play into all of this mayhem. There are other wild cards in the deck. Suffice it to say that my wife and I do not know what will happen from one day to the next. Maybe nobody really knows that. However, other people act like they can plan for the future. We don’t even pretend to do that anymore.

I know a young man at the synagogue. He’s a good guy, and he has been in recovery for eight years. He is big into 12-step programs, and he likes to tell me,

“One day at a time, one day at a time.”

I’m not really a big fan of 12-step, but I wholeheartedly agree with that mantra. The best I can do is live one day at a time. Sometimes, I have to narrow the focus to one hour at a time, or even down to one minute at a time.

As a case in point, just now, I had to stop writing because little Asher woke up from his nap. I had to soothe him for a while to get him back to sleep. I live with interruptions that are interrupted by other interruptions.

I know an Afghan refugee family. They fled from Kabul in August of 2021. They spent months living in absolute uncertainty. They didn’t know where they would sleep at night, what they would eat the next day, or where they would eventually end up. They are okay now, starting a new life, safe in a new country. My troubles are trifling compared with the terrors they had to face. I have to put my level of chaos into perspective.

Still, I sometimes find it hard to deal with not knowing what to expect. I find it hard being unable to make sense of events that are apparently irrational. I find it hard to find serenity amid all of the noise and commotion. It can be maddening.

So, one day at a time.

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