One day as I sat in my yard I noticed sounds of excitement and enthusiasm on the other side of the hedges. I had heard these noises before and I had never really questioned them. They were just background noises.
I stood on my tip-toes and held my chin up high, trying to peer past the physical limits of my yard, but I couldn’t. The wall of bushes in front of me was both tall and full all around so I couldn’t see through it or over it.
I spied a staircase nearby and joy swelled in me. That would help pick me up higher so I could see over the hedges.
I approached the stairs and stepped on the bottom step, but I still couldn’t see the show. I went up one more, and my view opened up a little more. I went up yet another step and another until I was just a face in the crowd standing on the stairs to enjoy the parade on the other side of the hedges. There I stood, and watched.
I watched the most colourful, musical and creative things unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. My mind exploded with thoughts and ideas I never knew existed. The painted jugglers juggled, the cheerleaders practically floated through the air and the dancers pranced poetically.
I became so thrilled, so excited from the energy that I couldn’t resist cheering and jumping.
Because I lost control of myself, gravity took over and pulled my body down all of the stairs and left me a bruised lump at the bottom.
I understood immediately that I did something stupid and I had no intention of repeating it. The next time I stood on the stairs, I would have better self control.
So I rested up and recovered, and then I climbed right back up again eager to glance at a magical line up of slowly progressing entertainment again.
This time I was very careful. I deliberately stood very still on the staircase which took a large amount of concentration. It worked too… until a tiny car caught my eye sputtering along at a snail’s pace that one…two…three…no four full grown clowns jumped out of and danced around in a comedic show.
The excitement swelled in my brain as they danced and flipped around the tiny automobile and it overwhelmed my senses. I didn’t even realize I was bouncing up and down again.
I had lost control again and I tumbled to the ground once more.
I tended to my scrapes and bruises, I stopped my wounds bleeding, all with my mind needing to know what was happening while I couldn’t see. I had to get back up the steps again.
That was how it began.
I would climb the stairs vowing to be smarter and better. I’d lose myself in the thrill and I’d fall down and need to heal.
I would get high, crash and then recover.
It didn’t take me long to sense the insane pattern. Still I couldn’t resist. Whenever I wasn’t on the staircase staring at a world full of wonder and musical folly, I longed to be and it consumed my mind.
Eventually I grew weary of it all. The same parade just kept wandering by and I was doomed to spend my life crawling up the stairs, jumping, and falling down and I was helpless to stop it.
I dreamed of the days before I even realized that there was something on the other side of the hedges. I never felt as if I needed it then, and I didn’t miss it or want it at all.
The longer I spend going up and falling down, the more I felt like an idiot. I had no self control, no pride, and no hope. I just kept letting myself down time and time again.
Today I took a few moments to stop obsessing about the high that lets me see farther than I’m supposed to see and looked around at the people surrounding me.
I saw people who were equally as fixated on peering over the hedges.
I saw people climbing trees, sitting on branches too small to support their weight. I saw people crowding too many on the branches, people kicking other people off of the tree and others grabbing someone else’s leg that’s higher and pulling them down to make room for themselves. I saw people climbing high only to fall down and get hurt.
I saw people leaning ladders against anything they could find and I watched others scurry to follow the first man up the ladder only to collapse into a huddled clump of angry, hurt people.
I saw trampolines, Pogo sticks and stilts. Anything to help people rise up and see over the hedges.
I watched people go up and crash back down again. I watched people get hurt, break down and cry and I witnessed people hating themselves.
Today I realized that this wasn’t happiness and that there are a lot of people who are unhappy just like me. Today I realized that this is a vicious cycle that’s leaving us all feeling desperate, helpless and hopeless and it holds no benefit to any of us.
Yet I hang my head in shame and ascended the staircase once again because I don’t know how to stop.
That is what addiction is.