Take a good hard look at this photo. What do you see? Write it down before you read on.
This photo was taken at a local park, one at which I hike frequently with my dogs. Up until 10 years ago, this park was a golf course. The family that owned retired and sold the land to the park district. When it was first available for public use, it was nothing more than an abandoned golf course, a pretty one. The golf cart trails made nice walking trails. These trails were paved with asphalt but well worn. We continued to use them while the park district made plans for what to do with this beautiful piece of property.
It took about 2 years for the park district to finalize plans and begin the redesign of the park. All the while, we continued to walk those well worn and familiar golf cart trails.
When the redesign was finished, the remaining asphalt from the golf cart trails had been removed and trails somewhat smoothed over. Hiking paths were rerouted or removed and some new paths created. Aside from the paths put in for walking the land was left to revert to its natural state.
For the first few years, it was easy to see where the golf cart paths, the putting greens and fairways had been. Sometimes, we even walked the areas where the old paths had been because we liked the “old park”. We thought the old familiar paths to be better. Over time, as those old paths were mostly unused, they started to grow over with grasses and seedlings. As the area where the old paths were grew over, the “new park” became just as pretty as the “old park”. It had become much easier to use the new paths.
It wasn’t long before we stopped even thinking about the old paths. We just go and hike the new paths that are there.
Yesterday, I listened to a video on the neural pathways alcohol creates in our brains and how, when we give it up, our brains need time to build new ones. In fact, metaphor about a path to a lake was used to explain it.
As I was hiking with my dog yesterday, I looked around the park and realized that metaphor had occurred right here in this park I have hiked for 10 years. The park district put in new paths. Since the new paths have been used and old path unused, I can now barely identify where those old golf cart paths were. In the photo, if you look carefully, to can see a “shelf”. That was once a putting green and a golf cart path was along the right side of that. I only know that from memory. If had never been in the park before, I would not see that at all.
I know that with each passing day I don’t drink alcohol, I give my brain time to create new neural pathways to the pleasure centers. It may take some time for those old pathways to fade away. Fade away they will if I don’t use them.
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