The Healing Path – A story of recovery.

A few years back after learning about a circular economy from my friend, Bela, I heard about a place in Florida that was a kind of high end healing restaurant and retreat centre and I came up with a vision.

I thought about an off grid centre of healing that could promote the idea of a circular economy. However I had no idea how to do it. Working as an English teacher at the time in the south of France, I was required to teach the principals of permaculture through English to a group of French ecology students. The three main points of Care for the Earth, Care for People and Share the surplus, blended well with my own spirituality and with the principles of a care economy. So the concept, even though vague, still had some specific direction.

I spoke with another friend called Dani and she suggested making it a rehab for addicts and alcoholics. That also seemed very logical, very new and definitely needed. The only solution we were aware of on the Cote d’Azur, was either 12 step programs, if you were lucky enough to hear about them, or what we commonly call mental hospital.

More than one acquaintance ended up in one of the hospitals here, voluntarily, under lock and key. They had been dishonest about their drug use. They had elected to have electro shock therapy, and 2 of them are now dead. A third struggles with bipolar disease, and yet still manages to apply the 12 step program and help others, who can neither get to hospital nor work a program at this point of their lives.

Months went past and not much progress was made. I was struggling with my own financial challenges and couldn’t see beyond a dream. Was it really what I wanted to do? How could we do it? Where would I start? Fear is a great miner of questions that will trip you up and have you fall into a hole of procrastination and prevarication if you let it. I did.

I watched the news of celebrities dying from overdoses, I watched close friends relapse and almost kill themselves. I saw people come into a program and run away never to be seen again. I met people who knew they had a problem but were too afraid or perhaps just too hurt to do anything about it. I saw the guy on the street who over time developed wet brain and screamed at the ghosts of his past that no one else could see. Surely a community of recovery was the answer for all of these people. But it did it have to be my home? I am a renter not an owner. How do I become an owner with land to grow food and sustain us?

Eventually , possibly out of frustration, it was time to write a business plan.

The first business plan was written about 5 years ago. I still don’t know if the business plan I have is ‘a proper business plan’ but it’s a plan. Friends continued to relapse. Strangers were reaching out to me from the blue asking was there anywhere they could send someone they loved. Each time I felt a twinge of guilt that I hadn’t acted sooner and got my shit together, but how?

Then somehow , I don’t remember how, I came across an article about a place in Italy. It was a craft magazine highlighting how the community in San Patrignano had pursued excellence. I was intrigued at this community of addicts who were producing top notch materials for 5 star hotels, leading chefs, and the fashion houses of Italy. Now this was a grand plan indeed.

It seemed just a couple of weeks later that I fell across a Netflix documentary called San Pa. I watched it all in one sitting. I was enthralled at the story of success, delighted that so many addicts had found community, recovery and connection and purpose in life. Could I dare do the same thing here in France? How could I make that work?

One of the things I notice in my story are the coincidences. Those things that come together unexpectedly as to leave you with no other obvious choice than the one in front of you. I hope to capture a few of these in the telling of the story.

I spoke with Bela about San Pa. Eventually we decided to make the trip down in his Tesla and see for ourselves just what it was, and how it was happening.

I would love to tell you the rest is history. Instead I will tell you more of the decisions I am facing today and how it came to this juncture in the road.