The AA Slogan first things first is one of my favorites.
Like many of the AA slogans, it is almost deceptively simple. And therein lies its elegance.
What is first things first saying, exactly? What are the first things? And why should we do them first?
The First Things
First things first reminds us to honor the true and most natural order of things.
Reflecting on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, certain things truly are more basic and more important than other things.
The needs towards the bottom of the pyramid – for shelter and safety, for example – are more important because they are primary. Primary in the sense that if these basic needs aren’t met, none of the others are even relevant, becoming moot points.
There is a natural order to the totality of our lives, including those more refined facets, like love, spirituality, and personal meaning. Central to everything is a good connection to the wellspring of our vitality.
Prioritizing connection with our Source, howsoever we understand it/him/her, means that we make life very simple, very now moment, very grounded.
Body is our First Priority
To keep Source first, we must prioritize body. Body is where our lifestream is unfolding. If the body isn’t ok, nothing else will be, either. Body is where Source is manifesting in our lives.
This means, of course, staying sober every single day. But it also means keeping the body in such a balanced, clean, clear condition, that sobriety is a natural state for us. When body is happy, sobriety is not a struggle but an authentic, easy preference.
Birds need to fly, to sing the songs given to them by their own nature, to collect materials to build their nests. Wolves, coyotes, and dogs need to run around and smell every tiny little thing.
The human body has its own nature. It likes to move, to be in the great outdoors, but also to find contained, human-sized spaces, to recline in safety and to dream freely. It likes to sing at the top of its lungs, to dance, to laugh, play, mourn and fashion things with its hands. To hug, to get married, have interchanges of energy with other humans.
When we let the human being body be what it wants to be by nature, we are in much better condition. Honoring body and all her native preferences, we honor where Source actually is living, right now.
First things first also gives a sense of order in time, of when things need to happen.
Saying something has to happen first is a way of saying Now. Now is the moment for this thing to be taken care of. Not later.
Our choices are creational, we shape our futures with what we lend our attention to Now. The way we approach our Now decides the path forward and reorganizes the past.
When we honor the organic, emergent natural priority as Source-in-body directs, allowing each Now priority to take precedence as Source sees fit, we are in good alignment.
Not only what, but How
First things first instructs the how, as well as the what. Maybe the first thing that truly needs to happen next is I need to go get a drink of water. If that’s so, then I can try to only do that, for now. Only getting up, only moving into the kitchen, only filling a glass, only drinking it, and that is all.
Not also planning my tomorrow. Not also rehashing my yesterday. Not also still doing my work at the same time, nor planning what I will say to someone the next time I see them, but only this: getting a glass of water.
With such a mindset, I can experience more of my life, not rush through every moment. Soon enough there will come a time when there will be no more drinking of any glasses of water. For now I am still here, right now, going through this very simple, complete act.
Journal: What are my First Things?
To play further and get the full-flowered benefit of first things first, try this journal prompt.
As a list or in a free-flowed written page, identify your top priorities, what comes first for you, as of today. Eg: spiritual path comes first. Being a loving presence in this world comes first. Caring for inner and outer nature, for heart, for music, comes first.
Now write a separate list of things that don’t matter, that don’t belong anywhere near your first things first list. These are the things that come second. Eg: imagining what others think of me comes second. Taking away burdens from people who have not asked me to do so comes second.
Looking over your list, in what ways could you more thoroughly and authentically honor your first priorities?
Thanks for reading!