Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Right Here

A man at a twelve-step meeting this morning was talking about how he'd just gotten out of prison within the past few weeks.

During a major portion of his incarceration he was locked in a small cell for 23 hours a day. He said that all he thought about when he was inside was what he was going to do when he got out, when he finally got into freedom.

But then he discovered, when he arrived at TLC, that he would be on restriction for three days. Plus the program has a lot of rules that kept him from going anywhere or doing anything until he had a little bit of time in the program. He said that it frustrated him so much that he almost left because he knew he could get a job somewhere and rent a place to live where he could do just as he pleased.

As I listened to him speak I realized that his mind and imagination were somewhere in the future. He didn't have a word of gratitude for the idea that he was out from behind prison walls and in a place where he could begin a new life. And somehow he had the bizarre idea that if he went somewhere else that he would be much happier. That all his problems would be taken care of.

Now I'm not criticizing this gentleman. I am simply using him as a example. Because many of us think just as he does. That if we just get to that next place in life we're going to be much happier. Life will be more rewarding.

And I know that many of you understand what I'm talking about. We get a new job, new home, new car, new girlfriend and we think that at last we have found happiness. But before long reality sets in. Reaching the goal we had to acquire something new didn't provide the satisfaction we wanted. The new girlfriend is wearing out our credit card. Our new car isn't quite as cool as we thought it was. And the house requires constant maintenance and cleaning. And that job is okay, but the boss as it turns out, is a tyrant.

Now there's nothing wrong with setting goals and trying to improve our lives. But if we're on a constant gerbil wheel of running real fast but not getting anywhere, it's probably because our mind is off in the future someplace. At some point, to get some satisfaction out of life we have to learn that where we are right now is pretty much okay.

This applies especially those of us who have suffered greatly from our lifestyle of finding instant gratification in our chemical of choice. Once I learned to live drug-free in the here and now life had much more depth and became much more enjoyable.

As far as I know, there is no better place to be than in this moment right here right now. And not with my mind wandering off in some fantasy future.

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