Their Shoes - Joel Aldous

Wow, I could hardly wait to write this blog post. I am jittery, I feel like my fingers are typing this at 550 miles per hour. They actually are: “you are currently flying at 550 miles per hour,” my Southwest pamphlet boastfully exclaimed. Yes, I am writing this post amid my flight home from Atlanta.

It feels like I have been gone for at least 35 days;

that’s the exact amount of time I have been gone if you were wondering.

The distant but calming smell of salt water already teases my sun scorched nose. The thought of a sympathetic breeze prematurely begins to cool my damp, humidity stricken body. My sister’s promise of awaiting potato soup has given me hope and the ability to get through the last month’s frozen Chimichangas.  Simply picturing my family insights feelings of delight, and the mere notion of my own bed makes my back feel better.

San Diego calls to me, faintly seducing me with memories of her splendor.

I said goodbye to Georgia this morning. In doing so, I was exclaiming farewell to new friends and to old ones. I announced the end of a new life that I had quickly developed.

My time spent there was so tough, but so good. It was so different and so new. It was so much work, yet somehow still rejuvenating. Georgia, this summer, was like nothing I have ever done.

I was there working under my good friend and mentor, Jared Callahan, on a documentary about drug recovery. I, along with three other interns from around the country, came and lived at this drug recovery center in effort to document the lives of individuals within the program. Thus, I was surrounded around the clock with ex-drug addicts, and felons; my new good friends.

I went into this month with fear, with frustration, and with preconceived notions about men in recovery. I new the documentary would be beneficial to society and I new I would learn a lot about film along the way. However, I didn’t expect to gain so many ex-drug addict friends, I didn’t suppose I would walk away with so many people’s life stories, I didn’t expect to feel so much love and so much acceptance from the men of this 18 month recovery program, I didn’t predict that I would have filmed so many teary eyes and regret consumed stories.

I was caught off guard.

Amidst my time there I had a conversation with Jared that I hope to forever remember. We were discussing the broken lives of those in the program and Jared shared the thought: “what if that were you?”

He continued, “What if you were raised in his neighborhood, with his socio economic status, with his parents or lack there of, with his anxiety disorders, with his looks, with his crooked, brace-less teeth, with his families view of God and morality, with his school, with his resources? What if you were put into the same situation with the same circumstances? How would you have used your life?”

Much of my life has turned out the way it has because of my circumstances. If I would’ve grown up in their shoes I would have probably had similar stories; perhaps stories of overdose or times in prison, stories of selling heroine or stealing from my own family, stories of broken marriages and 30-year addictions.

Though my story is different.

Why?

I don’t know.

Much of my life is the product of my circumstances.

I could have been in their shoes; I could have gone through the same.

God, help me to be compassionate; help me to look at people as you do.

Thank you, Lord, for the life I have been given.

The above photos were taken on a hike and then on the day that we made a short film.  The below iPhone photos were taken throughout the process of filming.