“Lying naked and shivering, face down on my cold kitchen floor with the business end of a cop’s shotgun pointed at the back of my head,” are words that are sure to capture your attention. They’re haunting, like straight out of a nightmare. However, they only begin to describe the horror of addiction and how it came crashing down like an avalanche on Larry Smith’s life.
This true-life tale of a retired United States Air Force officer and fighter pilot will send shivers down your spine as you come to the stark realization that addiction can truly impact anyone. Smith’s booze-filled, cocaine induced haze is explored in his transformative book “Flight to Transformation – Beating the Turbulence of Addiction,” published by Burman Books Media Corp. It is certainly a riveting story, but it is so much more as Captain Smith breaks his book down into two distinct sections. The first, is a memoir detailing how addiction turned his idealic life as a high-paying pilot for United Airlines into a living hell. The second half features the Captain’s unique insights into humanity and spirituality, to help you, the reader, gain greater serenity toward a more fulfilling life in recovery.
We had a chance to catch up with Captain Smith and interview him about both his life and the message behind “Flight to Transformation.”
InRecovery: What inspired you to write this book?
Smith: I kept journaling in my sobriety after the shock of my arrest. To be perfectly honest, I was suffering a lot at the beginning and writing was therapeutic. That’s when I began to examine my life story and realized that I had something vitally important to share with others going through the same ordeal. I discovered a tremendous amount of spirituality along the way, giving me rich perspective beyond my own experience.
IR: Who would you like to reach with this book?
Smith: Basically anyone who wants to either learn more about the recovery process or who is interested in exploring his or her inner self.
IR: Tell me about what redemption means to you.
Smith: I was a 747 pilot working for United Airlines at the time of my arrest. It came as a huge shock to everyone who knew me. I’d kept my addiction pretty well hidden from all my peers. I expected to get fired and ignored, but was happily surprised by just how supportive they all were, helping get me get into treatment immediately. I was very fortunate. I took my recovery seriously from the outset and was able to put my past behind me. However, I’ve never run from it. I acknowledge my mistakes but refuse to let them define the rest of my life. As a result, I’ve regained people’s trust and respect, flying again within 9 months of my arrest and becoming CEO of Get Real Recovery in Orange County, CA.
IR: You write about the four levels of transformation in your book Can you please describe them?
Smith: Gladly. There are four levels of transformation required for taking on the major task of recovery.
1. Unconscious incompetence – you’re really screwed up and aren’t even aware of it.
2. Conscious incompetence – you recognize that you have a serious problem but don’t have a clue what to do about it.
3. Conscious competence – you know you have a problem and need to follow certain steps to solve it.
4. Unconscious competence – You’re so used to doing the right thing that it becomes second nature.
To give you an example, I was at point 1, unconscious incompetence at the time of my arrest. Oddly enough, I even had a premonition that I’d get busted, but ignored it because I wasn’t ready to stop using. Many substance abusers have this same problem until there’s a catalyst that makes them want to change. Although not all are as serious as having your front door busted down by the Feds.
Point 2 involves taking some action like 12 Steps or some other program to get you on track, which quickly melds into point 3, conscious competence. Many people then stay at phase 3 and live wonderful lives. However, for those fortunate enough to attain unconscious competence, you get to be “on autopilot in God’s world.”
IR: Can you kindly share more of your spiritual insights?
Smith: I’ve read numerous books on spiritual guidance and am constantly jotting down thoughts and ideas that come to me after prayer and meditation. I include spiritual bites in each chapter and expound upon quotes from well-known celebrities to help give the reader topical insights. I also make regular use of the advice I give, in my own personal life. My goal isn’t to preach but rather to inspire by sharing my experience.
IR: What key message would you like people to take with them after reading your book?
Smith: A God of our own understanding is within all of us. We are incapable of understanding God, but we intuitively know right from wrong. However, the ego attempts to disrupt us and edge God out. We need to align ourselves with the will of God. That best stems from gratitude. When you see and appreciate all of God’s blessings, both large and small, why would you want to do anything but His will, anything other than good?
“Flight To Transformation – Beating the Turbulence of Addiction” is now available for sale at Available on Amazon. Captain Smith is a masterful story-teller who provides inspired perspective. I highly recommend his book to anyone struggling with addiction, in recovery, or in search of knowledgeable, spiritual guidance.