Yesterday Today and Tomorrow – A Poem For People Wanting Hope

This is a poem which is read in many 12 Step meetings around the world. In my early sobriety I clung to the words, weeping my shame from my body….nowadays it still reaches deep into my soul each time I read it or hear it.

Today I hope it helps someone reading who feels like the mountain of life looks too large to scale.Autumn Road

Yesterday Today and Tomorrow

There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
Two days which should be kept free of fear and apprehension.

One of these days is YESTERDAY,
With its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders,
Its aches and pains.
YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
We cannot erase a single word we said.
YESTERDAY is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW
With its possible adversities, its burdens, its larger promise.
TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.

TOMORROW, the sun will rise,
Either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW
For it is as yet unborn.

This leaves only one day – TODAY.
Any man can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
– YESTERDAY and TOMORROW –
That we break down.

It is not the experience of TODAY that drives men mad.
It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY
And the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.

Let us, therefore, live but ONE day at a time.

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26 Responses

  1. thank you for sharing this poem. I have never been in a 12 step program and heard the poem. It is very inspiring …and true. There are a lot things we get overwhelmed about when we keep lingering on the bad of yesterday and worry about the unknown of tomorrow

      1. I wrote a poem while in school many years ago : I see poems that remind me of it. How do I get it out ?

  2. I love this – such true words and I can see why it’s something that helps people working toward a goal. We really do only have this moment and wasting it on yesterdays issues and the unknown of tomorrow means we lose so much. Thanks for sharing this! I think I’ll pull it out for some of my clients (confict management) as it would really speak to them.

  3. Although the poem is powerful and the words convey such truth, and would carry one looking into the face of adversity into the next day, for me, what made me blink back tears, were your words: “weeping my shame from my body”…that is gorgeous. Just reading that makes me ache for reasons I can’t even explain. So glad to have met you…I know I’ve said this. Just finished relaying our encounter to my husband, and we were both weeping from the intensity of the recollection.

  4. Thank you for sharing this!

    Focusing on one day at a time has been a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.

    Life become more peaceful and less chaotic. Yay!

  5. This poem is beautiful and has such meaning for many people in many different circumstances. I am not an alcoholic but was married to one for 32 years and when i started out on life on my own at the age of 52 I relied on reading this poem every day to help keep me strong. I have a copy of it on my refrigerator and have the title tattoed around my wrist so when I feel that life is getting to be too much to handle I only have to look at my wrist to remind myself of how I need to live my life.

  6. Julie, May God continue to bless you! You Are A Blessing. You Are The Apple of God’s Eye!
    Encourager Linda Flagg, LM, CS

  7. My name is Ryan and im an alcoholic.

    Julie, this poem has helped me in my first year of sobriety my sobriety date is January 14, 2013. We are having my birthday tonight for my 1 year and I want this poem read. My medalion is going to read “One Day at a Time” quite fitting. Congrats on your sobriety.

  8. Was asked a few months ago by a dear friend who was terminally ill if I would consent to read this at her funeral when her time came. The funeral is tomorrow and ,although a little apprehensive, I know the words will carry me through x

  9. I am visiting Toronto, Ontario from Eugene, OR, USA.
    I was asked to read this poem at a meeting. WOW! It was
    Exactly what i needed to hear, when i needed to hear it.
    Do you know the origin of it? Xoadrian

  10. Hey all, I am only 19 and thus haven’t had any of the problems or experiences you have had, but up until recently I was living a pretty hard life and this poem was one of the few that helped me get through it all.

  11. I first heard this poem read at an open meeting I went to, to support my dad over 10 years ago. Today it holds even more meaning as it did back then. I keep a copy with me in my wallet.

  12. I just forwarded this to my nephew who is 34 & facing difficult circumstances in his life currently. I am familiar with YT&T because I myself am sober in A.A. since June 1, 1978, but I also enjoyed the message in your website, & I hope he does too.

    John W.

  13. Saved my life. I have finally learned to let life occur and stop fighting the inevitable
    Read it one verse at a time, then take the time to absorb the thought behind it before advancing to the next verse.

  14. Hi Julie,

    I love the font you selected for this poem – it is absolutely perfect. It has that 1930’s feel yet is ultra-modern at the same time. What font did you use?

  15. I’m Linda McIntosh hoh mother and stayed clean for 12 years ,4 months and 11 days today .If my spirit is troubled , a good site to repair it is at a recovery AA /NA meeting , with a God’s therapist with Higher Power or with my Sponsor cuz they are non-judgmental and can give me guidance on repairing my Spirit .

  16. Hello Everyone. My mother passed aprox 2 yr ago in jan/feb; my dad will be a year this november:(they not together) but love is love together or not! Okay excuse me i apologize its still ahrd for me some days better some worse.– Whenever I was cleaning out my mothers apartment which sorting through her closet, a piece of paper a 5×7 came just floating down albeit i was sitting in the floor going through her stuff and weeping but i had not nor anybody because i was alone had disturbed anything . This was written on that paper without a title without an author ..now my mom wasnt attending any kind of relious or addiction meetings ..i know because we talked everyday , she did not drive anymore and my grandmother and uncle lived across hall from her and saw her everyday 98 percent of the time. I have it with me in a frame and finally got my big girl panties up to have the courage to google it and found you all here, Blessings and prosperities to all and a gigantic big Thank you for letting me tell my story thank you for your attention time and patience ..gotta go now tearing up choking em back 💗💗💗🌜🌚🌛🤍

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