“One Step [Day] At A Time”

In 2019 I sat in a musty church attic in downtown Savannah, GA staring at a large wall of text with, what seemed like, uninspired quotes from people who must not have had any semblance of poetry. What I did not know at the time was that while the phrase “One Day at a Time” is simple, it is highly effective in conveying an exact course of action for most of my problems in life. Life is simple; it is human beings who make it complex (mostly in the 8-inches between our ears) and reverting back to mundane and lackluster quotes of “Keep the main thing the main thing” or “One Day at a Time” is a short reminder of how to take complex situations and analyze them in a straightforward light. One step at a time; it can be long and it can be painful but you can always take another step. That is how you thru-hike and climb mountains; That is how you recover from addiction.

Into the Woods

My name is Pat and I am a Dad, Pilot & most importantly sober and in recovery. I grew up in just north of Cape Cod, MA in the 90’s fascinated with the 2.5 acres of woodland area behind my parent’s house. I spent a lot of time exploring what seemed like endless dense forest and became fixated on the silence and space the outdoors provided. I was fortunate enough to grow up with two very loving parents who enrolled me in every sports activity a child could reasonably do and despite the invention of Nintendo 64 my parents ensured I was outside and exploring at every chance. In the fourth grade my mother, an avid reader and oceanographer in another life, introduced me to Mt. Everest and the adventures of George Mallory and Sir Edmund Hillary. I became enamored with the idea of human beings climbing large, seemly impossible mountains; so much so that for my “dress like a celebrity” day at school that year I borrowed my grandfather’s old skiing poles from 1940 and an oversized faux-fur coat from the Goodwill store and went to school as the lost George Mallory; albeit about a foot shorter than the man himself. That time in my childhood never left me, as I continued to age, interest changed, new technology was developed and I prepared for college, my love affair with grand mountains never left.

Lost in the Woods

As I grew into adulthood life became busy. My career had pulled me to many different locations and the long and often high-stress environment led to an increase in weekend parties and a lot less time in the outdoors. I surmised, at the time, that this was what being an adult was like; a mortgage, a job, drinking the weekends away with friends, rinse and repeat. As this cycle continued I felt an increasing detachment from who I wanted to become vs. who I was. This led to years of struggling to find an identity in a world I did not completely understand instead of looking inward on what I wanted my identity to be. I will save you the drunk-a-log however in 2019 I put the cork back in the bottle and started my journey of recovery.

Above Treeline

Science has said that when someone enters recovery, their brains pickup somewhere around when they started with their addiction, almost as if the light switch is turned back on. Thankfully for me, that time coincided with a deep passion for skiing and alpinism. At the time, I was lucky enough to have the support of friends who suggested and, even accompanied me to start hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. From the moment I stepped into Table Rock State Park I felt home for the first time in decades. Now, it is my opinion that alcoholics/addicts are THE most tenacious and hard-working individuals I have ever met. The fortunate gift people in recovery were given is that we do everything alcoholically and for me, this was a white-hot pursuit of exploring the outdoors.


To the False Summit

I never want to reach the summit. Composer Gustav Mahler once wrote:

“When I have reached a summit, I leave it with a great reluctance, unless it is to reach for another, a higher one”

The end of every climb or thru-hike leaves me wanting the next grand adventure. I prefer to think that every time I complete a goal, even in my normal, mundane life, that it is not the summit but the false summit, that way I know while I have reached an important point, I still have miles to go. What do I do? I bet you can guess.

One Step At A Time.


Thank you for reading. This is my first blog I have ever written and as such, I welcome any feedback! My personal contact information is on my author page and I welcome any criticism or feedback.

I hope you stick around, as a weekend warrior I have quite a few interesting climbs/hikes this summer and would love to share them with you!

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Comments 2

  • Jen : Apr 7th

    Congratulations! Beautiful story. One day at a time indeed. Best wishes on your journey!

  • Maureen : Apr 7th

    Today’s GRATITUDE is the stepping stone from our past trials, present understanding, and future growth. The journey never ends. We learn, we forgive and we expand our lives to appreciate each moment. “Keep on, keeping on”. Peace….


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