Rockfest For Recovery
City of Angels Presents Local Musicians for Music Festival
'To get clean. To stay sober.' These are common phrases used to describe someone who is battling a drug or alcohol addiction. It sounds simple, right? Well, it's far from it. For some people, all it takes is an intervention, if you will, by caring family members to seek help. A few months of group/individual sessions and drug/alcohol free living will do the trick. For others, it is a life-long battle to not use drugs/alcohol on a regular basis, or, at all. Some get clean, but aren't able to stay sober for that long. Some get clean, are sober for a while, and fall back into the same patterns of behavior of using never to return to sobriety. A relapse, we call it. Fortunately, some are able to make it out alive and return to a somewhat 'normal' state of being. What is 'normal' anyway these days? Is there even such a thing? And, some just aren't able to kick the habit, and leave us way too soon. These cases are the hardest to swallow. Family, friends, and other loved ones are left behind with the memory of their sister/brother, parent, friend, or spouse.
I've had the opportunity to spend time in multiple drug and alcohol counseling centers over the past 2 years, and my experience has been nothing short of amazing. Eye-opening at times, every day is something new and different. I might find people having a great day. I might find them having an OK day. I might find them having an awful day. No matter where I find people and where they find me on a given day, I always leave feeling like I made a difference in one person's life. It's hard to describe, but I feel a real connection with someone whom I've never met before and may never see again. This is the case in one of the places I go to--the individuals are there for one week at a time, and I'm only there once a week. Then, they move on, and I don't see them again. How amazing is it when you are able to positively impact someone like that? A perfect stranger? It restores my faith in humanity if it ever gets lost for me. And, it does at times. What's even better is that these individuals do the same for me. They positively impact me, and leave an impression not soon to be forgotten. To see people at their lowest, outwardly and inwardly struggling with an addiction, is both terrifying and endearing. It shows me that there are levels we can go to inside ourselves which we are almost always unaware of. I get to see people to go these places, and some are willing to share those places with me. They are trying to become a better version of themselves. Aren't we all trying to do that anyway? We should be at least. That's what I feel about every day of my life--to become a little bit better than yesterday. Whether that means taking on a new client, spending time with my son doing something we've never done before, going one-tenth of a mile longer on a run or a hike than the previous day, all it takes is being open to the possibility of change, embracing the unknown, and pushing myself past what I think I can do. We can all do this sort of thing if we have the right mindset and the right support system. I've heard the opposite of addiction is not sobriety...it's community. Think about it. When we are left to our own devices, we can sometimes be our own worst enemies. But, when we are in the presence of others who care about us and those we care about wanting the best for us and us for them, it builds confidence and breeds a sense of camaraderie and resourcefulness to overcome any obstacle that comes our way. When there's no ulterior motive or request for returning the favor, we know someone is in it for the right reasons. Doing something just because we know it is the right thing to do, and not because it's the cool thing to do. That takes courage and humility.
With all of this said, I know I've witnessed miracles happen. From someone singing a song they never thought they were good enough to sing to someone sharing their story in a most intimate way to someone telling me I saved their life, I will cherish these moments forever. Sometimes I leave a session crying tears of joy because of how amazing the individuals I spend time with are. I make it a point to tell them every session how awesome I think it is they are there willing to work on themselves, that they admitted to having a problem and wanting to make a change for the better, and that they inspire me. It's true. They inspire me to be better. I hope my words resonate half as much as the words they so openly share with me about themselves.
One of these places I've had the pleasure of spending time with those they serve and support is City of Angels. Located in Trenton, NJ, there are friends and former teammates of mine who have gone through their program (or something similar to it) and have come out on the other side better and stronger for it. Since City of Angels is a non-profit organization, they depend on donations, grants, and anything they can get their hands on as far as money and resources go to best serve the community. Fundraisers and galas are necessary, and their presence is known throughout Mercer County.
In 2018, they had an idea to bring people together in a bonding experience over music: Rockfest. In addition to countless volunteers and local vendors, local and regional musicians were sought out by the team at COA (City of Angels) to share their gifts of time and talent for spreading the word about their mission: supporting people through the difficult time of recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction. The festival was held on Friday night, September 14th and all-day Saturday, September 15th at Mercer County Park Concert Pavilion in Hamilton/West Windsor, NJ (depending on what entrance you go in). It was an honor to be asked to perform, and I took the stage at 2PM after a few musical acts went on before me. Several others graced the giant stage after, and by all accounts, the event was a great success. The picture above shows some of the core group of people who run City of Angels as they did a promotional appearance on the radio station, 101.5, leading up to the event. I know the community would like to see more feel-good, positive events like this, so if you are able to give to this organization, please do so. Any kind of help is appreciated: volunteering your time, giving a monetary donation, telling your family and friends about them, and utilizing their services if you do, in fact, have an addiction. We're all in this life together, so we ought to be there for each other when we need help. Because we all need help every so often. I know I do.