Greetings from Boston, Massachusetts!
Early in my recovery, I found myself trapped by either living in the pain of my past—or in the fear of the future. Living in the present allows us to Go! Smell the Flowers! as well as to simply enjoy the great pleasure of being alive.
I have found that if our hearts remain open, we often meet people along our journey who help to teach us the lessons we need. I have learned some major lessons in life from some unexpected sources!
One lesson happened early in my recovery from heroin addiction, when I was about six months clean. I had just returned to Bozeman, Montana, where I had begun attending classes at the University. To support myself, I found a job driving a taxi, which I had experience doing earlier in my life when I was a cabbie in New York City…..
One of the contracts the taxi company had was with a non-profit organization called REACH, whose mission is to help support adults with developmental disabilities, in hope that they might ‘reach’ their potential and aspirations. I would pick the clients up from their group homes and take them to their jobs (if their disabilities allowed them to be able to hold one) or to drive them back and forth from the center itself, where those who could not work engaged in activities and therapy.
The REACH taxi was not so much a taxi per se, but a large van, capable of holding up to ten clients at a time.
Onc day, I picked up a group of REACH clients to take them to the center for the day. As I arrived, I realized there was a terrible fight occurring amongst two of the clients. I calmed them down enough to get them into the van but as soon as we took off, the bickering continued. Each time I would say something, it would stop but as soon as a moment passed, it would start up again. Finally, I pulled over and told them I was not going to be able to drive unless they stopped since it was so distracting to me and their safety was involved. It continued, though, albeit on a lower decimal level. We finally made it to the center and I saw them off the van, noticing the bickering was still continuing. Since we were assigned to work for the REACH clients an entire day at a time, I knew I would also be picking up the same clients up that evening, driving them back to the group home—and to be honest, I was dreading picking them up all day. I dislike arguing or fighting of any kind and hate being brought into the middle of it.
However, an interesting phenomenon occurred when I went to pick the clients up that evening—and I noticed it right away! The same two clients who had been at each other’s throats (almost literally!) were now holding hands, beaming at each other as they climbed into the van to return home. I was dumbfounded! What had happened? Throughout the drive back to the group home, I kept glancing in the rearview mirror, warily waiting to see if a fight might break out. Nothing did. They skipped out of the van and into the group home.
I sat outside the group home for a while after that, thinking about what had happened. I realized that these people had taught me an important lesson about being able to live in the present. The fight that morning was long gone. Over. They had moved on and were enjoying each other for the present. Sure, the fight had been intense, during the present of the morning—but after it had passed, it was truly gone and there was no need to dwell on the bitter feelings of what had occurred previously.
As I sat there, it dawned on me what an important lesson these folks had taught me. Not only did these clients not live in the past, I also realized I had never heard any of them worry about what might happen to them the next day, next week, or next year. They simply lived for every moment and seemed so content to do that.
I still can get sucked into the pain of my past—and occasionally, I find myself gripped in an icy fear of what the future might hold—but mostly, I learned from this amazing group how wonderful it is to really live in the present.
Where do you live? Do you live in the pain of the past? Fear of the future? Alternatively, do you live in the moment?