Welcome

The Dopamine Trail

A dedication to each and every one that has ever been caught up in addiction.

I work and write on the lives of people who have become stuck within a system or pattern that ultimately proves to be devastating to them. Many of these people are, over the course of time, willing to step beyond the dark and live in the light – to reconnect with their authentic selves and build healthy relationships with their loved ones. There are others though, who find such a courageous step very daunting and these are the ones that have left a lingering thought in my mind, thoughts to which I often return, hoping that in some way their winter has turned to summer.

A Universal Cry

I want to sleep
like the black cat
beyond the wall
and know that despite

my scruffy coat
I am loved
that I belong and
without promises
I can carve
a Life
for myself and
without explaining
or asking permission-
I can be

Room with a View

Change. I have for years been in the privileged position by telling others, my clients, to change their lives. They come with set and rigid patterns and seek happiness within. Within such a domain, it is only achieved under rare circumstances and with much difficulty. The answer lies elsewhere. Instead, we should start thinking differently about life, about the self, about available alternatives, and broaden our arena instead of squeezing out all life.

To a certain extent I too have moved into a system of restriction akin to the client being here for an extended period. I have taken up a position at a Rehabilitation Centre and subsequently, from Monday to Friday every week, I stay in a room overlooking a swimming pool while in the distance focussing on the blue-grey mountain range surrounding the valleys in between. I have a view. It is this view which affords me emotional and mental space in which I can let go of my prudish and self-conceited assumptions.

I stay in the staff quarters at the boys’ hostel at the Youth Centre at a Rehabilitation Centre some 100 km outside the nearest town. Most of the last 30 km of this road turns into a rough cobble-like surface, which is undertaken with great trepidation and skill. It is a rather time-consuming journey. Although not a convenient situation, it is better than being immersed in columns of red dust in the dry season or tracks of deep mud in the rainy season daily. Perhaps the circumstances surrounding the fact that I attend to the lives of others and being on-call to the I-do-not-want-to-be-here, life sucks, I want-my-old-life-back, and variations on the theme, merits my staying over and occupying this room. It is challenging yes. Rewarding? Meaningful? Some people refer to such service as passion. I cannot quite put a definition to it.

I can, however, define the room. It is confining and it is the only place. It is furnished with only the basic necessities. Any softness or visible sign of habitation is a personal matter. For now and the immediate future, that is how it will stay. I have not made the change-over yet. Currently, the room is a functional space. The white curtains to the windows I find highly impractical and sterile. The glass door opens onto a board-walk balcony which will be nice in summer. It is winter now.

This room has become my sanctuary, the only space which is not invaded by people with problems. Although there is minimal evidence of myself, I am beginning to feel something, but it comes and goes – like the mind it is in a constant state of flux. The feeling I have about the room could be similar as to how the newly admitted boy feels over his obscure life. Part outside, part inside. Life outside is bigger, more attractive with many diversions – and we both run the same image through our minds daily. When I open the door onto the balcony, I can see further and there is a relief that life has a continuation beyond the room. Should he decide to fully engage in the programme, he will also be able to see there is another life beckoning beyond these confines.

We both need to become personally involved in our individual change-over and accept our situation ‒ at least for the interim. Perhaps with my next trip home, I will bring back that small oil painting…

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