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.

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,Autumn Road
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
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.


  1. anna says

    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

  2. says

    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. says

    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. Peggy says

    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. Cheryll says

    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. Encourager Linda Flagg says

    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. Ryan M says

    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. Elena says

    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. Adrian says

    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. Jonbrandon Rancman says

    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.

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