Act as If

“I’ve got this!” Famous last words of many folks who had no idea of what or how things could go wrong. Suddenly they will be nominated for a Darwin Award: a prize given to those who contribute to our gene pool by removing themselves from it. It’s a fitting crown to an otherwise obscure tombstone.

So often we think that we’ve ‘got’ it, and we don’t know how close we are to ‘lost’ it. There are so many variables in life that it is impossible to have sufficient contingency plans for everything. A tire will explode; a dog will cross your path; the ladder will break. It’s not a matter of good or bad karma. Things happen. It’s often the timing and the consequences of those things that we judge to be good, bad or indifferent: how do I perceive it?

Take for example the tire exploding. If it happens when the car is parked, just after we got home then, “Well, it’s a miracle that we made it!” If it happens just before we are about to leave then, “What bad luck, now I have to change the damn tire!” If it happens while driving too fast down a gravel road in the mountains, we may not survive to make a comment.

I’m learning that I simply don’t have control. I have plenty of evidence that gives me the illusion that I can control things: it worked today, so it will work tomorrow. However, there is never a guarantee that walking to work today will be as uneventful as it was yesterday or the day before, or the ride I’m about to take on my motorcycle will end with me safe and sound back in my home. The guy who said, “I got this!” might have done the same thing 25 times before without turning himself into a human torch. The unexpected happens. We all know this is true on some level, yet we still venture out into the ‘unknown’.

Why aren’t we paralysed with fear? Why would we ever leave the ‘safety’ of our homes? I think it is because we know on some level that we have to ‘act as if’ things are going to be fine, that they will run like clockwork and we’ll be tucked safely into bed at the end of the day. It’s an agreement with life that we will act and think as though things will happen as we intend them to happen. And for the most part, they do.

When I came into recovery I began to ‘act as if’ I was sober and clean. I ‘acted as if’ I could spend the rest of the day without consuming. I went to meetings, I worked the steps and talked to my sponsor because I was ‘acting like someone in a recovery program’ until I actually began to feel that I was no longer acting. And when I ‘came to believe’ in a power greater than myself, I was opting into the same belief system that I was operating with before: that if I would ‘act as if’ there was a Higher Power in my life until I could really believe and trust. The program has given me a new perspective. Now I don’t have to ‘act as if’. Now I know, “We got this!”

One thought on “Act as If

  1. Good one, Tim. Acting “as if everything is going to be fine” is a powerful way to approach an ever changing world that begins right at our own door. I especially like that the phrase carries on to the present moment. Not denial about all the problems that surround us but actualizing, moment by moment as if it is working just fine now.

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