Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wasting Time

I stopped on my way to the office this morning at Circle K to pick up a cup of coffee. Which is kind of my typical routine.

As I walked in an older man standing outside the door asked me if I had a few dollars I "could spare."

Actually, I had no change at all but I told him that I would get some in the store and touch him up on the way out. And I did, because I have a habit of giving money to just about anyone who asks me for it. I don't care what they do with it, it's just the idea that if they're in bad enough shape that they have to ask strangers for money then they must need it. He might've used it for alcohol, drugs, or who knows what – that's none of my business.

As I drove away, though, I reflected on how this person was wasting his life begging for dollars.

In an economy like today's most anybody with a pulse can get a job of some kind. Even people with no skills. Businesses are willing to teach people how to work, how to develop some skills, just so they can get some employees.

But how other people waste their lives is none of my business. And the reason it's none of my business is because I did the same thing for a long time. I did'nt use my days or weeks or months or years wisely. I used drugs, I stole, I spent years in jail to pay for my crimes. In looking back, I deserved the punishment that I got.

But had I looked into the future and realized that using my time wisely I could've created the life I have today I might have done something different. At least I say I would have. But the reality is that I was so into the instant gratification of alcohol and drugs that probably nothing could have changed my mind. What finally did change my mind was that I had enough pain and misery to realize there must be a better way. And so I got sober and clean and began working with other addicts and alcoholics – something I've been doing for over 28 years.

Being sober, I've come to realize that time is the most precious thing that I have. We can waste a lot of things, but time is not one of them. If we don't use our time wisely and constructively we just wasted part of our life. Does that mean that we don't ever have a good time or play or relax? Of course not. But to just spend our time watching television or playing video games or seeing how many "friends" we can develop on Facebook is not what I would consider a good use of time and is something I don't do.

A lot of addicts like myself spent many years engaging in self gratification. Today most of my time is used in helping others to learn how to use their time constructively.

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