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.

Saturday, June 13, 2020


The only thing we can count on is change.

I was reminded of that again today when I was talking to a college student working at a fast food restaurant. She was wise beyond her years, which was somewhere in her mid-20s, because when I was her age I never thought about such things as change. I kind of had a decent life at that point – not great but not bad – but still I never thought about change being part of my world. At least not in a major way.

When I was her age, roughly 60 years ago, life was much simpler. The technology of today did not exist. If someone had told me that everyone, even poor people, would have a powerful telephone that they spent a lot of time looking at I would've thought they were crazy. The idea of a mass-produced electric car was something that I never dreamed of.  And now I drive one.

In those days I never thought our country would be in turmoil over racial differences – it never crossed my mind.

I lived in rural Oregon as a child and it was rare to see minorities. I remember when a student from Mexico enrolled in our school he was treated with awe. None of us were antagonistic toward him; in fact it was almost as if an alien had landed on our schoolyard because he dressed and talked so much differently from the country kids in that small town of 300. We were fascinated with the way he spoke and dressed and the burritos and tacos he brought to school for lunch. Everyone welcomed him and treated him nicely. And I don't even remember seeing a black person except once in a while there would be a crew from the nearby railroad that shopped at the small country store in the middle of town. But we rarely had occasion to talk with them and didn't even think about their color. They were just like everyone else in that part of the world, they were working to make a living.

Late last year and early this year I recall being optimistic about the future of our company and our country. No one anticipated that we would have a virus that none of us had seen before, one that would rock our economy, and have us working from home. Nor, in the midst of that challenge, did anyone believe a police officer would murder a black man in public on camera and set off widespread racial turmoil that is still going as I write this.

Somehow I'm optimistic enough to believe that positive things will come these differences as long as things don't get too far out of control. Sometimes radical change stems from radical behavior. But I don't even count on that – all I can really count on is change.

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