The PCH in Sunday traffic. On the surface, this may not seem like the epitome of peace and serenity. From a certain perspective, it is not. Everyone stuck, not moving, either trying to get to their weekend beach day, or get home to get ready for the week. People all looking towards where they are going with very little focus on where they are.
A lot of the time, if I’m not careful, this is the mindset that I find myself in: a constant state of looking ahead to the next thing.
When I first entered recovery, like many of us, I went through phases of trying to find my new identity. If I didn’t drink, then who am I? I went down the typical routes: fitness, tattoos, all sorts of spiritual pursuits. While each one taught me something new about myself, something that I have been able to carry into the rest of my life, there was still a sense of searching for the next thing. Really the opposite of being present, or serenity.
Eventually, once my life started to come together more and more, one of my pursuits led me to buying a motorcycle. Surprisingly, this is where I’ve truly learned the art of being present. As people with substance use disorder, many of us have a hard time learning anything unless we are faced with a life-or-death situation. Riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles is just that. If I am not fully focused on what is directly in front of me and where I am in any current moment, the consequences can be dire. With the only option being complete focus on the here and now, the past and future melt away. What I discovered in this was the experience of being truly present, and of being at peace.
On the PCH this Sunday, I was completely content with the standstill traffic. When we are forced to be present, completely, and fully, we realize that is all there really is. There isn’t a starting point and there isn’t a destination. There isn’t seeking. We are just always here, right now. And that, finally, is serenity.