Measuring Progress in Experiences

“Time is not a tool.”

—Twelve Step wisdom.

There is nothing more abstract than time. We can measure it—in seconds, hours, days, and years. But just the same, when we really want it to tick along at a predictable rate, it will slow to a crawl or fly by in a blur. The one unit of time we like to focus on is today. And now that we’re sober, today is always different!

We treasure our milestones, applauding our fellows’ day counts and gathering to celebrate their anniversaries. But all of us, from the nervous newcomer to the wizened old timer, have only today. Rather than meander through maudlin memories or future-cast to tomorrow’s catastrophe, we strive to stay in this moment.

So we measure our progress in experiences, not years. On a calendar, a year is just a string of months. But lived, it is a bunch of paychecks from a job well done and twelve rent payments made on time; it’s family outings and office parties and holiday seasons we got through without picking up; it’s the Steps we worked with our sponsor and the service we did for our home group. We call this sober reference, and it’s one of the most valuable tools of all.

Prayer: Help me find more sober reference today—in a crisis I survive, a triumph I celebrate, or a connection I make. Let me live in this moment instead of measuring it.