Mountain biking is like restorative justice in an important way. Each is a practice on focusing on where we want to go.

In mountain biking on narrow single-track trails with steep drops on the side of a mountain, you have to focus on where you want to go. You look down the trail in front of you and pick a line to follow over around rocks and roots that’s passable. If you don’t look where you want to go, and instead look where you don’t want to go, you’re likely go there and crash.

The same is true for dealing with suffering and shows how restorative justice helps us by leading us on a path where we want to go.

I was almost murdered 34 years ago by a stranger and suffered serious injuries that required surgery and hospitalization. My physical injuries took almost 4 months to heal, but my emotional wounds took much longer.

During the first months of recovery I spent a lot of time blaming myself and dwelling on my mistakes. “What were you doing in the dark alone?” I spent my time looking at where I didn’t want to go and I lived there in misery. Eventually the pain became overwhelming. I found help from Harold Hall, Ph.D. who helped me see my strengths and helped me begin to heal emotionally by getting me to look toward the future.

As my focus shifted away from resentment and sorrow for my pain toward what I might do and where I might go, so did my life.

Four months after almost being strangled to death and recovering physically, I was sitting in a college classes at Kauai’i Community College excitedly discussing books by Mark Twain and Albert Camus. Suddenly my life was all about where I wanted to go. I was finding joy and satisfaction from doing the work that would take me to a future that I wanted and off the trail I was stumbling on without direction that was fueled mainly by fear.

Restorative justice helps us see what we need to repair harm caused by wrongdoing and social injustice. Restorative justice gives us time to pause and consider how we might make things right with people we may have hurt, and also for ourselves if we have been hurt or if others have hurt us.

Focusing on what we need to repair harm is looking for what we want. It is hopeful and optimistic. Continued looking off the cliff, and dwelling on our shortcomings, is a likely way to crash and fall.