It’s never that I’ve done a slash in my post title and only once previously that I’ve posted multiple words in the title. Frankly, between the two words above, I am unable to determine which is more important. They both are. From a human and spiritual perspective.
As you well may know by now, I am an addictions and recovery counselor. One of my many hats that I wear is that of group facilitator. Our clinic has over 30 groups a week on various topics but focusing on recovery. One of my group topics is indeed spirituality, a topic which I am extremely passionate about.
I teach that spirituality is about connection. To God (whatever He looks like to you). To community. To self. We speak about nature as a means of getting away from the noise in the practice of solitude and of “centering” and actually listening to our own thoughts – something an addict in the midst of addiction frequently avoids, along with feelings. The goal for the addict is to exist and stay alive until the next “fix” or ingestion/injection/smoke/inhalation of the mood-altering substance. As a part of the connection, I extol the virtues of building an outside support network.
Eventually all of our clients leave us either by a successful completion of their treatment program or due to continued use and struggles – either they fail to continue to comply with the program rules or need more help than our outpatient program is able to offer. Regardless, many of them do not, much to their detriment, even consider building up a sober/clean support network of friends, helpers, and encouragers until they are no longer under our care.
Today, we watched a 15 minute video (opens in a new window) featuring female Olympic swimmer, Diana Nyad, the first person ever to successfully swim from Cuba to Florida, 110 miles. Nyad was featured on TedxWomen.
She makes some incredibly valuable statements with regard to recovery and life in general.
First: she had a team of experts with her. These teammates did not swim with her, but navigated, encouraged, kept her fed and hydrated (while she was not permitted to touch the watercraft), and helping to keep sharks and jellyfish (one in those waters has the most lethal sting in the oceans) away.
Second: she prepared immensely. It’s one thing to medal in the Olympics through a speed race. It’s an entirely different battle to swim over 100 miles in the ocean with creatures for 53 hours. At one time, she mentions that John Lennon’s Imagine played 1000 times is 9 hours and 45 minutes. And that she knows she swims 50 strokes a minute. That speaks of relentless practice, preparation, and of knowing oneself.
Third: even after completing her goal, she still admits that the point of the adventure is not the destination, but the journey. Of course, arriving at the destination, Nyad says, is still a thrill in and of itself. Celebrate the journey, celebrate the team, and pay special attention to showing gratitude to those who played critical roles in your success – share it.
Finally, the presentation was not one of gloating, but one of being self-aware enough to know that her community, her tribe, was vital to her success. Whether you are in recovery, a counselor, or simply a human being, make sure that you’re not journeying alone.
Who are your cheerleaders? Who is your life support? Who carries you from time to time? Thank those people for not all they do, but who they are to you.