The Travis County treatment program I was in (SMART) lasted 140 days. We were able to have outdoor "recreation" for about an hour a day. The multitude of activities available to us were horseshoes, volleyball and a walking track/path that was .9 of a mile long.
Side note: what is it with sobriety and fucking volleyball? When 12-step groups have an event they always have it. You'll find a volleyball court at every rehab. What happens is you get a bunch of alcoholics/addicts together with nothing going on in their lives because they're newly clean, so they get really invested in the stupid volleyball game, and they channel all their frustrations into being super-competitive. In other words, almost everyone becomes an asshole. Fun.
Because some SMART big wigs were visiting, they wanted to make the rec area look more presentable. So they went with pouring cheap gravel over the walking track...those big white driveway rocks. This was beneficial, because instead of the same ol' walking or running a mile routine, now we got to play the game "Who Can Exercise With the Least Amount of Foot and Ankle Injuries." We walked around the gravel, killing the grass and creating an outer track of dirt. If you'll look closely, all Travis County programs have a second track outlining the intended one...metaphorically speaking.
Anyway, recreation. I spent that time exercising some, but mostly keeping to myself, watching the sunset when it was evening recreation and a little walking meditation. In the rock track, I found a small, round rock that I could roll through my fingers like a coin. I would do this or just rub it in my hand when I walked around every day. At the end of rec, I would stash it in the same spot to be used the next day.
At first this confused the staff watching us, because they were keeping an eye out for anybody hiding notes, medication or whatever for someone else. I was asked a few times what it was I was retrieving from my spot. Seeing it was a rock, they would give me a puzzled look and then let me go on my way.
I told myself I would carry the rock every day, and then when I left the SMART facility, I'd take it with me as a reminder of the 140 hours of the outdoors I spent in 5 months...a nice reminder in the future to not put myself back in a place like this. It became important to my routine...something I looked forward to, especially close to the end of my time there. One day, a couple of my friends hid the rock from me and left a ransom note in its place...yes, we were that bored.
One guy asked me what I would do if on my last day the rock was just gone for whatever reason? Would I be upset? I thought about this and about the time invested in it and what it represented to me. And then I said, "Nah, probably not. It IS just a rock, after all."
I do still have it, by the way. It sits right in front of the Buddha candle on my dresser, and every day it reminds me of that time I was "on vacation from life." I also think about that answer I gave, too. To me, that little stone also represents aspects of my material world...not just money and possessions, but also my perceived role and status in life and my public image. It is easy in our society get caught up in trying to find happiness in our things.
And I know that you probably are aware that "money can't buy happiness" and all that shit. However, at least for me, knowing this and living it is retarded hard. I get comfortable with my life and what I think I need in it...my skateboards, clothes, iPod, my reputation in the local comedy scene, my job, my local hangout, my routine. And if I lose one or all of these things, I feel like I lose part of what makes me happy. But yes, Tyler Durden, I am not my job or my skateboard or my reputation. And yes again, it IS only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
But all extreme alter-ego fight cult mantras aside, if I lose that job...if I lose that thing I think makes me happy, I have to realize that no, I make me happy. That regardless of what that lost thing is, it is just a rock, after all.