The Nutcracker Epiphany. Aspen CO. December 2018


Tim bought us tickets to see the Nutcracker in Aspen. It’s been a family tradition to take the girls for as long as I can remember. They usually go with their Mimi and Poppy, who have since  moved out of State, and now Lilly, our eldest, thinks it’s a great idea to carry on the tradition. 

Tim does too. He’s all in. He’s booked the tickets, hotel, everything. I also think it’s a good idea, but I hesitate because there is so much to do involving the bus and house before we go on our Wide Wonder bus adventure across the united states to inspire new perspectives on mental health and addiction. I feel as though I can’t think about fun stuff right now! When I think about taking some time out for joy, the motor of anxiety within me revs up its throttle and I don’t want to go.

We go anyway.

In the ski traffic drive from Denver to Aspen, in the midst of the majestic white tipped mountains and breathtaking views upon the Vail pass, I find myself resentful. I have so many things on my to-do list to complete, I don’t have any time for fun and frivolous money spending! For the love of whatever, we’ve only got six weeks until we pick up our converted school bus and only eight weeks until we leave! 

I’ve been telling myself that when our family finally gets on the bus, then… THEN, I’ll stop and connect more with my surroundings and live in the spirit of wide wonder. However, I’ve been noticing more often that it’s easier for me to push living in the moment to the side as though completing a to-do list has a higher pay off than participating in life. It doesn’t matter how much I actually have to do. Planning a large-scale American tour or cleaning the bathroom carry the same amount of weight in my mind.  

Tim slows down the car for someone changing lanes, and as he mumbles “arsehole” under his breath I find myself cursing (in my mind) at Tim for “making us go” in the first place. How dare he encourage family joy. He’s the arsehole, I say to myself. Or maybe it was out loud? And then, I have a moment of clarity. It’s as clear as the beauty of the Colorado mountains. This bus adventure is not just about helping others with mental ailments and addiction recognize that they are not alone and worthy of the same access to treatment as someone with a physical illness without shame, it’s about me too. 

In the middle of bumper to bumper traffic, I am struck by a sincere desire to change. I’ve been pushing off living in an attempt to reach a moment where I can ensure safety within me and outside of me. Busy-ness has become my new scapegoats. For so long, recovery has just been about feeling safe in my own body and most importantly, my mind. But now, I want more. So much more! I want to feel safe being me and allowing myself to be present—as me. I want to allow myself to let go and dive into life without censoring—without being dictated by fear. I want to care less and love more. After all, isn’t that why so many of us sought out recovery in the first place?

As we head into Aspen, I gently remind myself that it is okay to put aside all those things I’m adding to the to-do list in my mind. I feast my eyes on the lights of the Aspen streets and the sounds of the snow crunching in the car tires, “it’s okay to be present, Rob,” I say to myself. “It’s time to let go.”

Is there something that you want to let go of in your recovery?