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A recent adventure and a colossal challenge; yet one more among recovery’s many gifts in my life.



My recent experience has me thinking it would be an inner crime not to share an adventure; a rapturous challenge had me relive my past at a present pace, as I stood in the same place but in a different space, so distant, twenty-eight years erstwhile to be exact from the time I write to you, the reader.

But first: I belong to a workout crew that greets meets for feats regularly a few days a week; some members meet daily. We are a diverse and eclectic bunch from all over the country and the globe. We are our own Disney’s “it’s a small world after all.” We meet like a pack with warm and mighty fist-bumps and hugs after organically connecting by vibe to make such a tribe of fit, kind, creative, and healthy humans. What brought us together? Nature and Nurture. Where the weather almost always permits, there is a live, dualistic backdrop of festive and atmospheric boardwalks, cliffs, and mountains dropping into or erupting out of the sea (whatever your perspective). Where Iron Gymnastics Bars are posted in the sand so close to the water you can feel and taste the salty spray (of the now cleaner, they say…) Santa Monica Bay. Located in a *remote* beach area called Venice in California—some call it “Muscle Beach.” The enclave is everybody’s gym.

A challenge comparable to “special forces” training was designed for its members to earn (insert) Primal scream and caveman expression “UNOG” title—meaning: “UNITED NATIONS of GAINZ.” The first stretch: from the Venice Pier to Santa Monica Pier and back in under One-Hour-Fifteen minutes. A six-mile *pleasant stroll.* Not that hard…wait, but in the sand. That’s over six miles of “sand plowing.” With such a jog – it is a slog. We did it in an hour and four minutes. I know…I’m surprised, too.

In Short: My Buddy, Phil, and I met the challenge together to earn our stripes. The unity, love, praise, and respect we show each other are something to cherish.

Many years ago, as inferred in the first paragraph above, I was loitering beneath Santa Monica (Pier) Plank (metaphor); euphemistically, I had *beachfront property.* I was crack-addicted and 20-something, puppy-faced and soul possessed. The point is I’ve been afforded, gifted, blessed, graced, and endowed (fill in the blank) to share and contrast a past existence and my life today.

On our run, as I headed towards SM pier, it drew nearer and pronounced as if I was on a conveyor belt; my breath was like a steady engine, motoring me toward my past. I realized the History I had underneath what I saw as a Plank to nowhere. In slow motion—I’m my own Director of Photography in real-time. We arrived. I recall the imagery, chaos, inhumanness, and the malady I participated in and cast. We took a moment. I shared what went down all those years ago; Phil, the intuitive and active listener he is, shares in the profundities. We are a team, like in the “FoxWhole.” The dimension is divine. I ask that he capture a pic of me. The environment now is families and small children, where sea sand begets sandcastles— enjoying Mother Nature’s power and majesty as she intended. As we take off to finish the second half of our run dedicated to meeting our goal, I rear my head backward. I see yesterday’s Plank to nowhere – to today’s Pier that symbolizes metamorphosis. It shrinks like the past, distant—but still vivid. I’m saying goodbye, but I must never forget; the pain and memory to transcend and leave it where it belongs in History. I relish, arms in an Air Plane motion, vroom, like a child, I’m cool. I’m flying forward and unrestrained. I breathe and boost my brain, gut, and lung.

The sonnet below illustrates what I said goodbye to, literally and figuratively, many years ago and still to this day.

Beneath a pier to nowhere, the Pacific sea crush before me, but deafness has me blind; static is the mind, desperate creatures alike, brain on a pipe, in survival Search for crack in the sand.

Tortured and silent screams, frozen faces, steely eyes, asphalt lips, toasted fingertips, life’s mission is for crack in the sand.

Blind voices, eyes stretched, sandpaper-mouthed, reptile-tongued, torn talon toed to crawl and excavate for crack in the sand.

Bleeding in the heart, suffering in my gut, the mind of distortion, as bodies huddled in contortion in zombied motion, as I granularly sift at the sip of the ocean, I quest, hunger, thirst, crave, yearn, and burn for crack in the sand.

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes – I have risen from the weight of cracked rocks shattered in the millions, fall away and lie beneath as I take flight forward into the boundless sky of emancipation.

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