As a kid with SMA, I had numerous ongoing hardships that caused me a great deal of stress. Most 7-year-olds don’t have to deal with the prospect of a spinal fusion surgery or with the idea that pneumonia soon could strike them again for the umpteenth time. While my fear of those things is understandable, I wasted a lot of emotional energy on them because they all were in the future. Dreading the future was typical for me until I heard a sermon titled “One Day at a Time.”
Anyone who knows me at all knows how profound this concept is for me. It’s changed my life for the better. I got it tattooed on my arm, for crying out loud. While “one day at a time” still helps me every day of my life, it recently dawned on me that I have taken it slightly too far. The goal is to avoid worrying about the future, but I should still plan for the future. This is something I’ve neglected.
Thinking five or 10 years down the road used to be incomprehensible for me because I was so focused on the present day. “I don’t even know if I’ll be alive tomorrow, let alone years from now.” I adopted somewhat of a “live each day like it’s your last” approach. That sounds nice, but the truth is that today probably won’t be my last day, and treating it as such will have ultimate repercussions. I believe that mindset locked up some of my potential. All we have control over is how we react to the present, but our present actions (and reactions) determine our future.
Money prompted me to start thinking more about this. I recently found out about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a monthly cash benefit that disabled people can receive after accumulating a sufficient amount of work credits. After learning this, I adopted a more long-term perspective. I don’t need to make loads of money right now. I just need to keep working each day and make my way toward SSDI.
Saving is the other side of the coin. (Pun intended.) If I spend money with the mindset of “may as well, because I might die tomorrow,” I’ll never collect much savings. But if I make wise financial decisions today, I should be in a decent place five years from now.
Working my way toward my SSDI benefit and developing a savings plan have me considering the long-term future. That is new for me, but I’m encouraged by the hope it cultivates.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.