Dandelions Are The Destination
The other day my two 3 year old grandchildren, Corban and Alaire, were walking up the dirt road to the barn. They were having a 3 year old conversation while they admired the weeds we called dandelions. Nevada seems to be the dandelion capital of the world. Once they invade the lawn, it’s over. Each time the kids saw this particular weed they would say, “Another flower, another flower, another flower.” Little ones see things differently than adults do, don’t they?
Years ago my good friend Mark nearly had an out of body experience. He and a business associate were flying one beautiful spring day in a single engine plane over the Desert Mountains of western Nevada. High above the desert floor over Mineral County near my home town of Hawthorne sits Mount Grant. Mount Grant rises majestically, nearly 6000 feet above sea level at the foot of Walker Lake, a trapped and dying high desert lake.
As the plane flew over the back side of the mountain, the view was spectacular, breathtaking to the extreme. Unbeknownst to the pilot and the passenger, their serenity was about to abruptly change. An invisible force awaited them at the height of their flight. Just as the plane reach the top of the mountain, a vicious and powerful down draft pounced upon the plane. Immediately the small craft began to lose altitude. Mark, sitting in the passenger seat, was unconcerned about the sudden plunge in direction. Because of Mark`s limited flying experience, he didn’t think this to be anything unusual.
As the down draft continued Mark thought “Well surely the pilot will be pulling out of this anytime soon.” Mark began to feel uneasy and hoped that the pilot was ready to pull up at any moment. Mark became alarmed as the mountain was getting a little too close for comfort. Mark then looked over at the pilot for reassurance and saw the pilot's face. It was not the face he remembered when the trip began, the one of experience, confidence and peace. Instead the pilot's face was one of fear and panic, red with perspiration. Mark then realized that they were in big trouble.
As Mark again looked out of the window and saw the approaching mountain, he noticed the soft peddles of dandelions. The plane was only a few feet from the mountain now, only seconds from instant death, so close that Mark could actually see the separate petals on the individual flowers. As Mark and the pilot braced themselves for the impact, only inches from death, the downdraft ended. The plane lifted away from the mountain to the safety of the open air.
Mark and the pilot flew over Hawthorne in near shock and silence. After some time, Mark finally asked, “I’ll bet that happens all the time right?” The pilot answered “That’s never happened before.”
Author`s note: There may have been a number of reasons why this near death experience happened. Did one of the instruments on the aircraft fail? Was the pilot inexperienced? Was he foolish, or a host of other reasons that we are not aware of. One thing for sure, wind is usually invisible to the eye.
With overcoming addiction and the cycle of compulsive behavior, experience is vital. Most people trapped in the cycle of addiction cannot extricate themselves without a coach, a sponsor or a close friend experienced in recovery. It takes experience and help to avoid the downdraft of addiction. The “I can handle this on my own mentality” is a shovel that continues you digging your own grave. Yes there are days of white knuckling it when the downdraft is overpowering. There are also times of free flight where one feels completely released from the downdraft of addiction and temptation, where one feels to soar with the eagles. In the early days of recovery, both of these can happen simultaneously.
The effect of many stuck in this cycle is, over the horrible years of destructive behavior, our instruments of detection have seldom been used. Not only can we not see the down draft coming, we don’t care. Our warning or caution lights are undetectable while in the throes of addiction. Because we have violated and run so many stop signs in our lives, we may not have the ability to pilot our own plane safely. When we see the dandelions of addiction, we have forgotten that behind them are the horrible rocks of misery. What appears to us to be something of pleasure and joy, quickly turns to poison and pain.
Through the twelve steps of recovery we learn how to chart a new course to happiness and peace. We learn that the higher power is the healing that comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We learn that it is through His power that we are lifted, and not our own. As Mark and his pilot were powerless to deliver themselves from the down draft, so it is with those of us who are in the down draft of addiction. God will lift, He will heal, He will restore, He will soothe, He will make it right, He will replace the pain, He will comfort, He will forgive, He will forget and He has atoned.
We must do our part. What is our part? We allow Jesus to pilot our plane. We allow Jesus to Captain our ship. We learn that we are a deckhand on the ship to the promise land of recovery. In recovery we are learning how to co-pilot our own plane. Because of our addiction we may have crashed many planes and sunk many ships.
It may even be our very addiction that has brought us to the Captain. We may have come on our own, or maybe someone may have reported us to the Captain. How we got there is the least important thing. What matters most is we are now ready and willing to allow our Captain to mold us into a sea worthy sailor, or an air worth pilot. We have learned to resist the urge to jump overboard when temptation comes crashing over the bow. When our ship begins to list, we have learned to look to our Captain. We always look to the same place and we always find Him there. He is in the exact same place all the time. He never leaves the helm, He`s always steering our ship. By following the course laid out by our Captain, we know the safe harbor. Through the grace of our Captain, he has forgiven us much more than seventy times seven. It is only by his light that we can clearly see that dandelions are not the destination.