Michael DeLeon


“I started to understand the gratitude of tribulation  Somewhere between my Highway to Hell and my Stairway to Heaven” ~ Michael DeLeon

The path of life is often travelled on different kinds of roads. There are smooth ones and rocky ones. There are open roads and ones inundated with congestion. Sometimes roads are closed, bridges are out and there are often many detours on the way to our destiny. Life is a journey along these paths, and looking back over that journey we often ponder about roads not taken, often wishing that we had a Life-GPS at some of those points in life where we felt lost.

What would we tell our younger self? Given the opportunity to be a pedestrian on one of those rocky roads, what would we have told ourselves if we pulled over for directions? How many of us would return in a “Back to the Future Delorean” to take a different route knowing now what we wish we knew then? What would we say to our younger self if we had the chance to be the hindsight OnStar in the vehicle of life?

Since there’s no re-set button in the game of life, and since life is not a game, we can’t go back. The philosopher, Epictetus stated, “We live our lives forward, but we can only understand our lives backwards.” It’s been in this tribulation of my addiction and in the years of consequences that followed where I searched for meaning. My faith tells me that in the trials of our lives, we can also find meaning and purpose. It became my passion to do so. When my Passion met my Purpose, it was then I realized the meaning of my very life. It has been in this journey of reflection where I learned the most about gratitude. It didn’t come easy. It didn’t come with 20/20 clarity right away. But, with a serious level of searching, and a commitment, to not only learn from these troubles, but to use the troubles for the good and education of others; is when I found such an appreciation for enlightenment. In sharing this Recovery Story with others, I have embraced incredible gratitude for what I have been through in my life.

For me, life is more about living through the windshield rather than the rear-view mirror. At the same time, I realize the importance of that rear-view mirror for constant reflection. If I can’t see where I’ve been, or see what’s coming up upon me from my past, how can I properly navigate where I am going? There is a reason why the windshield is much larger than the rear-view. We can’t live our lives through the smaller mirror. We have to live our lives through the windshield.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

~ John F. Kennedy

This quote is so meaningful and important to me. This is how I want to express my gratitude for Recovery and I share it as much as I can, with as many people as I can and always try to live by its very meaning.

With Recovery comes Responsibility and with Recovery there needs to be the appreciation for what recovery means. It means to actually live life with an appreciation for what life has become – “LIFE”. Every step forward in a life of Recovery is a step toward something bigger, something better, something more meaningful, and something filled with more purpose. To appreciate this is to live life more fully. To have gratitude for the journey; from where we descended in our addiction, to where we ascended in our recovery, is to live life with the utmost appreciation.

We must do that by living the example of recovery to others. Not just in part of our life, but in all parts of our life. The most beautiful part of gratitude is expressing it openly to others so that they might experience the same. It honors it, it respects it and it flourishes it. Failing to express gratitude is like wrapping a gift and not giving it away. Failing to show your appreciation for the Blessings in your life is like winning a race with not a spectator in sight. It’s a victory, but sharing it with others allows the victory to mean something more than it does to yourself. This is especially true in recovery.

The appreciation and gratitude for the journey I have travelled has contributed to every aspect of my life. It has propelled me into a mission of advocacy. It has enabled me to grow into a position where I have been able to help so many people find their Recovery. It has allowed me the privilege to document people’s recovery and share their stories with the world. It has given me a mission and a purpose, and my passion has met my purpose. I have learned the true meaning of gratitude, and such, the true meaning of life.

It has created a strength and foundation upon which every aspect of my life will be built upon. And gratefully, I see the same for so many others.

Michael DeLeon is the director and producer of the films” Kids Are Dying” and “An American Epidemic” He has released his third documentary, “MarijuanaX” which looks at the legalization of marijuana in America. His fourth documentary will be released in February, 2017 called, “Higher Power”. Michael is the founder of Steered Straight Inc., a motivational outreach program for youth and young adults. He is also the National Marketing Director for Banyan Treatment Center.