I’m writing this from the backseat of a Toyota Camry heading west on the I-10. Swaths of open desert painted green with brush, wildflowers dotting the freeway margins, with random bursts of brilliant yellow and purple, create a picturesque landscape. My son sits quietly next to me in his car seat, crunching on veggie straws and gazing out the window. My wife drives in the front seat, playing The 1975 on the stereo. We’re on our way to California to take the kids to the beach and relax. For this moment at least – I feel present.

My life has been informed by a lack of presence lately. What if’s, should have’s, shouldn’t have’s, tomorrow’s, yesterdays, and everything in between. It’s been a remarkably challenging season of life that’s reminded me deeply of all the scrapes I’ve been through over these years—all the black holes in active addiction, the pain, the suffering, and especially the thoughts that those moments would never end; that in those moments, the misery I felt would last forever.

Over the past week or so, and especially now, as I watch rows of farmland pass me by rapidly from a backseat car window, I’m reminded that despite all those travails, losses, failures, and unforeseen circumstances, I made it though. I am here, living now. Watching the world in its simplicity, complexity, and splendor.

That’s all we have. The now. Tomorrow is not promised. Yesterday is gone; the best we can hope for is the strength and willingness to learn from it. When I was new, all I could think about was what had happened, and what was going to happen. As you can imagine this creates a disparity in the mind of where God would have us be, and where we think we ought to. I had to learn not to worry about tomorrow. I had to learn how to forgive myself for the things I’d done in the past. With extreme patience, grace, and practice, I had to sit on my hands some days, pray, and focus only on what I could do and control in that very moment. This mindset carried me through insanity to the backseat of this car 10 years later.

I’m reminding myself of this right now because I need to hear it. Despite my journey and all I’ve learned I still forget. Managing your mental health takes practice. There’s only so much we can control in this life – and there’s only so much satisfaction you’ll ever find in trying to wrap your mind and your hands around it anyway. True mastery, to me, is in just being. In not worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow. In enjoying the scenery. In surrender. In kicking up your feet. In feeling the air on your skin. In allowing God to guide each and every step you take. By maintaining presence, we are empowered and emboldened to love those around us deeply, to hold true space, and to lift each other up on this crazy journey through life.

I’m choosing to watch the world from this car window today. To just be, despite how I might feel. To practice gratitude for this blessing of a life that I’ve been given because every second counts.

God bless,

Sean –  In recovery