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      Sober Nation

      Putting Recovery On The Map

      10-08-15 | By

      Looking for Spiritual Freedom? Get Outside!

      spirituality and nature

      One of my top 3 books/movies of all time is Into the Wild

      To me, it screams of freedom. Maybe it’s because I fell in love with the book in Jr High in the 90’s. I’ve always had my head in the clouds and the book kept my head there for a while longer. Watching it on screen after its release took me back to being that kid with her head in the clouds, and I find myself watching it over and over and finding new themes as an adult. As a teen, it was the escape from society that spoke to me. As an adult, it’s the freedom that Chris finds within himself through nature that speaks to me and my life experiences.

      I find our generation of young adults eager to explore nature for a spiritual experience. There are tons of people searching for their inner Alexander Supertramp. There have been dozens of similar movies and books about the human spirit and nature. Another awesome film that spoke to me regarding the connection of the spirit and nature is Wild. This one is about a woman who hikes the Pacific Coast Trail in its entirety after struggling with personal tragedies such as drug addiction and adultery. The whole theme is centered on getting lost to find yourself again. This film spoke to me about freedom, specifically freedom in self-forgiveness, something I am constantly returning to.

      What’s all that got to do with sobriety?

      Well, without getting too deep into philosophy, both films are based on the notion of transcendentalism. It’s a big word for a very simple way of thinking. Basically, it’s a belief that society (in our case drugs/alcohol) corrupts the individual, but the individual has a spirit, connected to nature by some other force (God). Every recovery program I took place in or heard of requires a belief in a higher power to help with sobriety. Belief in something other than a system (aka recovery program) is necessary to open the mind to the possibility of sobriety, something not previously thought possible by addicts/alcoholics. Just by believing in the possibility of a higher power, your mind is now open to the impossible. We tend to keep a very closed mind while using, perhaps because it helps keep us in denial.

      It wasn’t until I was writing my testimony as a part of a step study in Celebrate Recovery, that I realized the exact moment I experienced transcendentalism. It is the brightest, clearest moment in childhood that I treasure to this day. My father was a source of fear in my life as a child. He was an alcoholic and had many other complex issues that couldn’t be fixed by having a family, we only made things worse. So, when my mother decided to leave him when I was 5 years old, it was in my innocent nature to be excited for our new adventure. I didn’t know the hardships of the road ahead, but I knew there was something out there. I knew because I saw it in the stars.

      I was being carried out of the house in the middle of the night. I had my favorite blanket wrapped around me and the air was filled with the scent of the pines of Washington State. These trees seemed to reach the sky. Without saying a word, I knew what we were doing. We were leaving. I asked and it was confirmed. I looked up to the sky and saw the brightest stars my little eyes had ever seen. The sky was black, but the stars were so clear they seemed to be pinholes in the darkness. I looked at the moon and I knew. I knew there was someone up there watching over me, protecting me, guiding me. It was a moment that only lasted a few seconds, but it’s a moment that I re-live often. It was my moment of freedom. It was my connection of my higher power to nature, and to my human spirit. They were all connected; god, the universe, and myself.

      I’ve been to 8 countries so far. I have done road trips from Texas to Michigan, and from Texas to Las Vegas. In one year, I was able to put my feet in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coast. Travel and nature is so much more of when you are open to seeing the spiritual along the way. Continued sobriety allows me to remain stable enough to provide adventure funds, and without adventure I have a hard time staying sober, they’re all connected by feeding my spirit.

      It wasn’t until I was working recovery that I discovered the power of transcendentalism. I didn’t know it when I was writing my testimony years ago, but that one memory as a child was helping me transform my definition of freedom.

      What It means To Be Free

      Webster’s defines freedom as “the quality or state of being free as; the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous; or the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken.” Being released from the chains of alcohol has allowed me to find the fortitude and confidence to not only reflect, but to share those reflections with others that may see through the eyes of their inner child. My next adventure includes reaching the summit of Mt Hood in the spring of 2016. It is there I will release my father’s remaining ashes and hopefully seal the deal on the spiritual freedom.

      Fortunately for me these movies, Into the Wild and Wild trigger a sense of freedom I can connect with on a spiritual level. Some triggers can be a good thing. I encourage you to work on that testimony if you’ve been putting it off, even if you never present it, it will always be a positive reflection you have in your arsenal of tools. I also encourage you to explore.

      You never know what may come of your next walk in the woods.


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