Like a great many people, I struggle just to complete daily tasks, such as cleaning my bathroom, or installing a light fixture, without incorporating an accompanying distraction. I have read about Zen Masters who encourage their charges to focus solely on the task at hand, without distraction, giving themselves to it completely. I have tried it, but I can tell you that I am “not a Jedi yet…” So, I seek to be distracted while I complete “the mundane.”

I have many interests, sports being one of them, and so I listen to the Bill Simmons podcast regularly. I know the whole cast of characters in Mr. Simmons life, and it has the possibility to draw me from my own with ease, while I do the things to put my life in a semblance of order.

This week, Mr. Simmons’ guest gave me a little more than I bargained for, and when I was looking for distraction, I got a compelling story of change. This podcast, which will be linked to this article, was about a Mr. Scott Harrison, the man who founded Charity: Water, and how he came to be the person that he is today.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “what does this have to do with me,” and “I’m just looking for an ‘aspirin’ to help me with my metaphysical headache.” All those are legitimate questions, and I ask you to trust me to make this worth your time. Let me explain, and perhaps we can get to know each other better as I share my experience with this distraction that distracted me.

Although I work with many issues in my practice, I am the resident “addiction guy” here at Thriveworks Columbia, and I work with a variety of the clients who are looking for solutions to their substance use disorder issues. I find that most people that are considering whether or not they have an issue with substance have a lot of other collateral issues that bring them to therapy. Sometimes these issues are centered in their loved ones, with “the judge,” with the Department of Social Services, and sometimes with a really “close call.” They can remember a time when things were different, and that time isn’t now, but they’re very interested on getting back to then. Many clients I see in the assessment phase stress to me that it is a particular substance, rather than an overall style of life, is the issue and that if I could just tell them the secret on how they could stop that, everything else will be fine.

Mr. Harrison was a big time, New York club promoter. He lived a fast life with fast people, and thought little of others and mostly of himself. He traveled around the world, from New York, to Paris, to Milan, always spending money, and using whatever, and whoever, was close to him. At one point in the podcast he recalls his moment of clarity, which was seeing people at noon, wearing suits and taking a break from their work to lunch, as he was preparing to go to sleep so he could wake up and “do it all over again.” This was the point that he faced his own crisis, and what followed was truly amazing in scope.

He sold all his possessions, and asked himself how he could he live a life that was opposite of the life he had lived up to that point. He tried to fall in with many different charity outfits, and ended up paying out his pocket to join up with Mercy Ships, which is a humanitarian organization that offers free medical care in the world’s most developing countries. Doctors and surgeons provide the medical care for no cost, leaving their personal practices, and spending their vacation time performing these tremendous acts of service. Mr. Harrison was there to photograph and document for the organization as the “ship photojournalist.”

This experience was a powerful one for him. As he furthered in this work, he also further reconnected with the faith of his youth. He came to see that a lot of the medical conditions that the Mercy Ships were treating was due to unclean water that is drank in these most developing countries. In the countryside where Mr. Harrison was taking photographs, he would see people drinking water with the color of “chocolate milk,” and walking 8 hours to obtain it. It was here that he decided that this was a problem that he could solve, and that was how Charity: Water began.

Since then, Mr. Harrison and Charity: Water has funded over twenty thousand water projects in twenty-four countries. Six million and three hundred thousand people are now drinking clean water as a result of his decision to change himself, and then change the world, through faith and service.

Perhaps you’re looking around it your life, and lives of the people you love, and see that the environment in not the most healthy one. Mr. Harrison did, and he realized that the change had to start with him. It had to start with where he was, whom he was with, and what he was doing. He knew that he couldn’t make this change on his own. He needed the experience he received on the Mercy Ships from the medical professionals, as well as the people that they served, to facilitate his change. He personally felt that a spiritual connection was necessary for his transformation.

I don’t think it is necessary for you to sell all your possessions and join a humanitarian organization to change in your life. Like Mr. Harrison, you do have to start with yourself. Thriveworks Columbia can be one of the many “mercy ships” in your life, and I would personally like to invite you to come aboard if you believe we are going somewhere you want to go. I, or one of my colleagues, would be happy to navigate your journey to change.
And you can enjoy the podcast I was referring to here…

The Bill Simmons Podcast

Charity: Water and more details about Mr. Harrison…