Playing with Fire: The Footfalls of Addiction

Photo: PPSDavid. CC0/Public domain.

How many times must I watch
pleasure turn into pain—
into a numbness painfully
removed from the Living Present?

How many times before I learn
not to cross the line at all,
not to play with limits
seeing how far I can go?

I sip my morning coffee,
sweetener and cream added,
a kind of nectar in the first sips,
the pre-dawn breezes
wafting through the window.

I begin my day enthused
at prospects for this brand-new
24-hour mini-life,
as yet pure, infinite potential—

but as I sip while perusing
online correspondence and interests,
I begin to notice that early promise

Doing the same thing as moments before,
I’m getting a different result,
until finally I have to stop
and, facing the truth, act
to reverse the course of excess:
of my addictive behaviour.

I open the medicine cabinet
of our closet for a bottle
of purified water, and begin
to flood my polluted body,

going next to our Brita pitcher,
drinking until starting to feel
intimations of relief,
Consciousness beginning
to clear again.

As respite comes, so does
a frightening awareness:
there is no one
to regulate me
but me
the clear-eyed self within,

who happens to co-exist
with the daredevil self
who continues to put
his hand in fires that
have burned him before.
When will he learn?

There is also a “dullard self”
who doesn’t know how
to have a good time,
and against whom recklessness
may sometimes be a reaction.

Conscience speaks
with such a quiet voice.
How long till maturity—

identical, I think,
with becoming
what we call
an old soul.

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