Today I had the honor of speaking at the Aspen Institute's "Brain Lab" with a remarkable line-up of doctors, neurobiologists, researchers, Ph.D.'s. Included in this group was Walter Isaacson, the president of the Institute and bestselling biographer of Steven Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein—among others. Who am I to be among such esteemed experts and knowledge gatherers?
Except that I could claim something that none of them could.
It was here while working in lawn maintenance at the Institute, in July 1975, that I was introduced to the mind and mood-altering substance, marijuana. And so began my story of addiction and redemption. Which today I shared with an audience of 350 people who learned not just about the brain science of addiction, but also about the "hole in the soul" of this illness and the "whole of the soul" that happens, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, through the spirituality of recovery.
I have carried this message to hundreds of venues before thousands of people in my 19 years at Hazelden Betty Ford, but today at "ground zero" was unique. Gratifying beyond words.
And an affirmation that the journey is never easy, and yet, always worth it.
Onward we go.