In Taylor Hunt’s A Way From Darkness, the reader gets a first-person view of the author hitting bottom—hard—only to get up and find a new and meaningful way of life. Hunt’s decade-long journey from heroin addict to father, husband, and Level II Authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher with hundreds of students is inspiring because of its honesty and appeal to tradition. He makes it very clear that he wouldn’t have found sobriety without the 12 steps and help of other recovering addicts and alcoholics, which is refreshing in a time when anti-institutionalism and self-help is in vogue.
Hunt found Ashtanga Yoga, a method of yoga that’s taught in the same way as it is in India, early on in his sobriety. It wasn’t long before he knew that he would devote his life to the practice while spreading the message of hope of recovery. The twelve steps saved his life, and Ashtanga Yoga helped him harness the power of those steps. When he began, his arms were scarred and weak from I.V. drug use. As he continued and deepened his practice, he learned how to hold himself up—physically, but also spiritually and emotionally.
As we watch Hunt’s head clear from addiction, the prose improves. Vague descriptions become sharper and more focused, just as the narrator does. This makes the recovery portion of the story more interesting than the downward spiral, which is an inversion of the typical formula for this type of narrative. This is unique, but it’s an accurate reflection of what happens during the process of recovery. What was blurry becomes clear.
In other ways, Hunt’s journey is everything we’ve come to expect from a recovery memoir; it’s gritty, heartbreaking, raw, and ultimately uplifting. Each chapter begins with a vignette, a window into the moment in time that Hunt spends the following pages dissecting. These vignettes are where the writing shines. Thrust into scenes as varied and vivid as a crackhouse, a rehab facility, Hunt’s own yoga shala Ashtanga Yoga Columbus, and Mysore, India (the birthplace of modern yoga), the reader gets to peer into the unfiltered reality of Hunt’s life, past and present.
Ultimately, A Way From Darkness is an examination of how addiction can tear a life apart and how a thorough recovery of mind, body, and spirit can put it back together again to become something stronger. Hunt’s message is powerful, so it’s fitting to close with his words: “Although I am afraid, I know it will be worth it. All of my leaps forward have been. I’ve received a gift every single day for the last ten years of sobriety by simply being present and watching the miracles happen in my life. On one hand, I know I have traveled very far from where I was in my addiction. On the other hand, I feel like I’m just getting started.”
A Way From Darkness is available for at: http://www.awayfromdarkness.com/ and will be available on Amazon.com in March.