Mention indelible childhood memories, and most millennials can mindlessly belt out any lyric from the iconic “Circle of Life.” Offering it a bit more mindfulness, though, we witness composer Elton John telling a powerful story. As the song hits the chorus, John writes, “You can never take more than you give.” For Elton, this sentiment led him into a life of recovery.

Wrapped in a life of superstardom, Elton began abusing drugs alcohol and drugs early in his career. He was first introduced to cocaine when his manager brought it into his recording studio in the 1970s. In his 2012 memoir, he writes, “Cocaine was the drug that made me open up. I could talk to people. But then it became the drug that closed me down… it ended up by me isolating myself alone with it, which is the end of the world, really.”

Living into his lyrics, Elton realized that his ticket to sobriety was in giving to others. Immediately after seeking treatment, Elton started the Elton John AIDS Foundation to help gay men in recovery like himself. It has raised over $200 million since its founding in the 1990s.

What, then, can we do? In big or small ways, how can we reorient and repurpose our lives, ensuring that we give more than we take? Today, find a way to be a service to those less fortunate. Keep Elton in your heart (and on your stereo), inspired by his sober mission.

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