This post is just a rambling from my heart.

I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I spent my childhood on warm sandy beaches, watching the curls of the waves and swimming in the bath-warm water. My mother taught me how to look for fossilized shark teeth that washed ashore by the thousands. As I grew older, we searched for more exotic finds: fossilized glyptodont scutes, horse teeth, tapir teeth, and dolphin inner ear bones. Fossiling was a family tradition. But it came to an end, at least for a while, when my father moved our family to the San Francisco Bay Area. The cold, kelp-strewn beaches there were nothing like the Florida beaches. Besides, there were no fossils to hunt. My beach-going days were few and far between.

When my father retired, my parents moved to Georgia, where my father had grown up. They built a house on land he had bought from his grandfather, acreage we fondly call “the farm.” Once in a while, I’d fly to the farm and visit my parents. We’d rent a condo at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida and drive down and stay for a week and look for fossils, just like in the old days. But my benzo withdrawal/BIND years stopped my visits for years. It was hard not to be able to travel to see my parents or to keep the Florida fossil hunting tradition.

Fortunately, we recover from benzo withdrawal/BIND. Eventually, I could travel again. One of the first trips I made was to our farm and then to the beach with my parents. I’m here at the beach now, with my parents and sister, writing this post. The exotic fossils are harder to find, the fossil bed off the coast petering out. But the shark teeth are still fairly abundant. I’ve been walking the beach, bent over, searching for the familiar glint of blueish-black triangles. Sometimes, I sit on a pile of shells and run my fingers through them, hoping a big sand tiger shark tooth will pop out, and sometimes, they do. I’ve listened to the waves— the breathing of Mother Earth—and watched the pelicans flying in a ribbon across the egg-blue sky. I’ve felt the gentle ocean breeze touch my face. I’ve been at peace, embraced by nature. (This may be my last visit to the beach with my parents and sister. My parents are ninety-three, and it is harder for them to get around these days. I am relishing this very precious time with them.)

As I sit and look at the shells giving way in my hands in hopes of dislodging a hidden tooth, I realize that hunting for fossils is a beautiful metaphor for how to live our lives. Look only at what is in front of you.  All that matters is what is right now in front of you. And what is there is a gift, for it is life! Looking for fossils also reminds me that we don’t know the wonderful thing up ahead. There is hidden treasure all around us!

In benzo withdrawal/BIND, life can seem overwhelming. Doom and gloom may clutch us in their tight fists. But we must remember that the darkness is only a perception generated by a hyper-excited nervous system. The world is still a marvelous place, filled with magic and mystery.

I’ll do my best to remember to look at only what is in front of me— to keep myself from looking back into the past or peering off into the future. I’ll focus on the here and now, looking for the good and being grateful for it all— trusting that something wonderful awaits up ahead.

Keep healing, my dear friends. We really do recover and live happy and healthy lives.
From my heart to yours from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Dr. Jenn