What makes a paradise?
Is it the natural beauty surrounding you?
Is it your state of mind?
Is it the company you share?
For myself and 11 other men, we found the answers to such questions after a 13- hour car ride followed by a 10-mile hike into the desert and canyons of Arizona. As alumnus of Jaywalker Lodge, we were afforded the great opportunity to travel to the most remote town in the contiguous United States, Supai Village. Supai boasts a population of around 300 native people and is about 60 miles from the next nearest town. People from around the world flock to Supai because it is only a mile and a half from the famous Havasu Falls. The trek in led us down steep canyon trails and after a grueling four-hour hike with 40lb packs on our shoulders we had arrived at our campsite. Our collective breaths were held as we stood at the top of Havasu Falls gazing down. We didn’t blink (we were too tired!) and in that moment all was well.
We set up camp along the winding river that flowed down from Havasu Falls and got ready for our stay. Some of us immediately jumped into the water, some of us went exploring. We would spend the next three nights in this paradise in the desert, a true oasis. You might mistake Havasu Falls and its surrounding area for Hawaii in pictures. The minerals in the water from surrounding rocks create the most vivid hues you can imagine. At night the lack of surrounding civilization lets the stars shine like no other place you’ve been. It is impossible to have a care in the world at Havasu Falls. You just get to be; be alive, be part of our amazing universe, be yourself.
We spent our days hiking to 50-foot cliffs that some of us were brave enough to dive from, we spent our nights as a group talking, laughing and doing a thorough twelve step study. There were alumni who had many years of sobriety and one with only a few weeks. We connected as men in recovery under the banner of Jaywalker. This was a spiritual trip, in so many ways we were able to celebrate our lives in recovery and share our experience, strength and hope. One of us flew all the way across the country just to join in this trip, for a few short days putting aside the worries of work and day to day life to re-connect with the brotherhood that we are all a part of. We laughed and cried and at some points stood mouths agape at the sheer beauty of our surroundings.
The conversation began our final evening: what makes a paradise? I spoke at length with another alumni about this in our campsite on our last night reflecting on our stay. Could we put into words what it was that we had experienced? We knew the natural beauty and segregation from civilization was certainly a part of it. The untouched canyons, waterfalls, rivers and vegetation were spectacular. But was that it? We came to the conclusion that Mother Nature was providing the place for us to enter a spiritual state of being and that it was the group of brothers that nurtured that state. We were all so grateful for the opportunity to have this experience in sobriety. We were grateful for our friendships and just how far we had all come in our own journeys. We were grateful to be alive knowing that at some point in our pasts all of us knew what it was like to be close to death in our addiction. We were grateful for Jaywalker and each other. After a lifetime of disconnect, we had finally arrived.
We were alive and we were well and most importantly we were aware.
So…what makes a paradise?