Hello and good day!
Did you ever notice that when you feel strong feelings, it makes you feel like you are at the center of the world?
In a very literal way, each of us is always at the center of our own little world.
We are only capable of perceiving the environment through the sensory organs attached to our own body and everything we know, feel, or think occurs inside our own brain.
You can try to be empathetic and see things through another person's eyes or imagine what it would be like to walk a mile in their shoes, but it is always just that, an imagining.
You can only know for sure what is going on inside your own head.
When your brain is flooded with certain chemicals, it is like a camera zooming in on your life.
This can be a great thing sometimes.
If you are eating a spectacular meal in your favorite restaurant, for example, you can fall into a lovely headspace in which everything around you melts into mere background noise and all that exists with clarity is you and the wonderful food.
On the other hand, when things are going badly, all that seems to matter are the tormenting thoughts that you hear and feel on repeat.
Friends and family can try to reason with you and talk you out of your dark place, but it won't work unless their words can somehow zoom the camera out so that you can see and feel more than what is ailing you.
I had been beating myself up pretty badly leading up to my expulsion from college. And I had been drinking excessively to dull the messages I couldn't stop thinking.
When you binge drink yourself into a stupor you can cause a lot of damage to the world around you, but at least you don't have to think your own thoughts.
In this sense, rehab was very good for me. It forced me to zoom out on my life because I was living in a room with 15 other men and all any of us wanted to talk about was our own lives and how it had all fallen apart on us.
The thoughts and feelings of a bunch of other people were imposed on me, and that was an important distraction.
In particular, I liked attending AA meetings. Most of us had been obligated to check into rehab, either by the court, or family members, or in my case, a university.
None of us would have wanted to be there. AA meetings were different though.
After a long day of classroom work and group therapy sessions, every night, our entire rehab group had to walk through the streets of downtown San Diego, to a local church, to attend an AA meeting.
The attendees of the AA meeting weren't required to be there.
They wanted to be.
They were working their steps and trying to recover, and they were doing it for their own reasons.
I sat in this big open room drinking a cup of black coffee. There was a podium at the front and several attendees stood up at the podium to give their testimonies. They talked about what they'd done and why and how it had affected their loved ones. They talked about where they were in their program and the challenges they were facing.
The rest of the group was there for support.
Nobody was alone. Not being alone. That is a zooming out.
Even though we can only think our own thoughts, we belong to a mosaic of life. Our life is connected to the lives of others.
When I checked out of rehab, one of the counselors gave me an exit interview.
"Do you have a place to stay tonight?" she asked.
"Yes, with my dad," I said.
"How will you get to his house?"
"On the bus."
"Do you have any money?"
"A little bit."
"Are you sure you don't need us to refer you to a shelter?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
I hadn't thought about what would happen to my bunkmates after our time at the center ended. Most of them would be back on the street, forced to endure the street life and be alone with their thoughts again.
I hadn't seen my dad or mom in a few weeks.
My brother Brian was in Peru, in the city of Cajamarca, working on our business with the mine.
I knew I'd be heading to Peru soon myself, but I didn't realize how soon. On the way home, I stopped off to buy new, warm, clothes, razors, and cologne.
Maybe I'd meet a girl, and I'd want to smell good.
When I made it to my dad's house, he gave me my itinerary and told me I was leaving the next day. In the morning, he drove me to the airport, gave me a hug, and drove away.
I'd never traveled internationally, and I didn't know what to do. I had a small, square piece of paper on which my dad had written three addresses.
There was the address for the hotel where I'd stay one night in Lima, the address for the bus station that would take me on a 15-hour bus ride from Lima to Cajamarca, and the address of my dad and brother's apartment in Cajamarca.
I tucked it into the front pocket of my button up shirt.
At the airport, I asked around to figure out what I was supposed to do to get onto an international flight.
Almost unbelievably I found myself sitting on an airplane bound for Mexico City and then on to Lima, Peru.
My perspective was changing, one step at a time.
The lens of my life grew wider and wider.
I felt less like the star of my own show, a show that was shaping up to be a tragedy, and more like I was playing a small part in a much grander production.
The feeling of belonging to something larger than yourself is powerful and healthy in my view.
You realize how small you are and how easy it would be for you to have nothing at all and be nothing at all.And yet, we aren't nothing and we do have something.
We are lives and we have lives. We are walking, talking, breathing, thinking, laughing, singing, dancing, working beings, who burst forth from a code in a cell and grew into what we are.
In the face of something huge, it is wonderous just to be. I got all that from being in an airport and sitting on an airplane.
I guess rehab made me pretty sensitive.
When I got off the plane in Lima, and ventured from the airport out into the city, I felt small, happy, and alive, a worthy stitch clinging to the tapestry of life.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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