The view from our hotel just outside Joshua Tree National Park was breathtaking the morning of our ninth day on the road. Little did I know, my emotions would soon be as tumultuous as the terrain I’d woken up to.
I was already in a somewhat sullen mood after the Bobbseys and I dropped Claire off at the Palm Springs airport early in the afternoon so that she could make it home in time to start her clinicals for her Occupational Therapy program. As chaotic as the previous week was, I really enjoyed introducing my favorite people to someone who means so much to me and the week ahead without her seemed like decidedly less fun. It was around then that I got a call about some turmoil brewing back at home.
The details aren’t necessary, but my emotions surrounding it all are universal. In a word, I felt powerless. Not only am I more than a thousand miles away, it’s a situation I couldn’t fix if it were two feet in front of my face. I tried to go about the rest of my day, shopping with the girls and grabbing a bite to eat, but it was still renting space in my head. It wasn’t until we were on our way back towards Twentynine Palms on Interstate 10 that I finally got a shift in perspective.
For anyone who hasn’t visited this area of Southern California, many would still recognize San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, where hundreds of massive white windmills stand churning electricity out of seemingly thin air. It was just about dusk, and the notorious local smog was filtering the sunlight into a rainbow of oranges and pinks down on the turbines and surrounding hillsides when I finally asked Amanda to pull the car over so we could get pictures. We stopped at an area called Harmony Ridge and Alicia clambered up the nearest hill to get some good shots.
As I looked out over the canyon pondering the day’s events, my mind drifted to wondering who it was that stood at the top of one of the rocky ridges of the San Jacinto Mountains surveying the barren landscape some 40 years ago and saw the potential for the marvelous scene in front of me. It’s a good reminder that there is a power out there to be harnessed, but we must do some work ourselves if we ever hope to reap its benefits. I couldn’t help but see the parallels to my life over the last week as well as the previous few years.
The reason I can be okay in tough situations lately is that I have come to understand that there is a power greater than me out there. You may call it God, fate, the universe or whatever you like: at this point in my journey, I call it the human spirit. Paradoxically, it’s a force my late wife’s addiction introduced me to almost 4 years ago. It’s something I’ve felt when I’m surrounded with people who have seen trials similar to my own, and it’s the reason I started the Here and Now Project.
Just like whoever engineered that windfarm didn’t try to build a dam or drill for oil where it would do no good, I know there is only so much I can do. I can only train my focus in the direction the wind blows and let the energy I have go towards something productive. As much as it breaks my heart to hear things back home are not ideal, I need to trust that the wind that’s carried me safely through the last week and a half of chaos will keep blowing up there as well, and that things will work out exactly how they are supposed to. If this trip has taught me nothing else, I know that this, too, shall pass.