What Do They Mean…Do The Next Right Thing?
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.~ Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president 1901-09
I had been doing nothing for quite a while. Then one morning after a suicidal blackout, I started my life over.
When I was newly sober I was also newly acquainted with AA. I found out about the program and the problem of alcohol in one fell swoop after Googling ‘alcoholic’ for a definition of the word. I know. No I wasn’t raised in a barn, but I can say in all honesty, I was raised with very little TV and no running water during a my growing up summers. Could lack of the basic conveniences have made me stupid?
Whatever you think, I have to admit that I was ill-informed about a lot of things. I covered my lack of sex education already, so I’m not arguing that I had some issues understanding life. I still do. That’s where the Teddy Roosevelt quote comes in.
One of the Old Timers in my daily 9:00 upstairs-in-the-corner group told me to do the next right thing when I felt confused. I was confused a lot and in all honesty, I wondered how I would ever know the next right thing? I needed a NRT button. You know, like the Staples Easy button.
I have to admit doing the next best thing, the wrong thing, had been my habit for so long that it was difficult to change. I’d tried moderation. As an alcoholic, I’m not a fan of moderation–although it worked until 4:30 most days. I didn’t even know about the whole moderation program that some alcoholics use for treatment. That would just never work for me. If I could moderate, I’d have done it. There were plenty of times I was told to just sip, not gulp. Doesn’t work for me.
If the worst thing you can do is nothing, then that was what I was doing until Google pointed me to the nearest AA meeting. I was doing nothing about the words of friends who suggested that I drink less, I was doing nothing about my conscience that told me getting drunk was wrong. I was doing nothing about the fact that most of my money was spent eating at restaurants that served alcohol or was spent at the local liquor stores. Doing nothing was the worst thing I could do. No disrespect to Teddy, but maybe the quote should say, Doing nothing and being dependent on my daily intake of alcohol was the worst thing I could do. Too bad because I was doing it a lot and doing it very well.
I suggest Teddy was right. My Old Timer was also right. Do the next right thing. You’ll find it works.
We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. ~AA p 86