Recently, I watched the movie “The Soloist,” and contemplated the relationship of the story to the seeds of addiction recovery (addiction recovery through yoga and mindfulness underlies the mission of Breathing Space). This may be one of the movies that, like me, you missed. Starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr., this is a story of highly talented musician (Foxx) who experiences mental illness, leaves Julliard, and eventually becomes homeless. He is profiled and befriended (and in some ways exploited) by a journalist (Downey). The story unfolds in many interesting ways as the friendship develops. One fascinating aspect of the story is one of acceptance: Downey’s interventionist strategies to save Foxx, to change him to fit certain normative ideals, are countered by Foxx’s forthright character and the leader of the neighborhood homeless shelter. The journey of each character to acceptance of individual needs and capacities is moving and frustrating, and insightful.

An image that came to me in viewing this movie is that of the seed. Each seed has the full potentiality of the living organism it could become within it. However, for the seed to grow and survive, there is a balance of conditions that must be met (soil, light, temperature, nutrients, water, space, protection). In the movie, Foxx’s character displays the incredible potency of his seed of talent, but that seed begins to be expressed only if and when the right conditions are presented. And, there are setbacks, due to lack of acceptance of his neurodiverse expression.

In nature, seeds can lay dormant for years before the right conditions for growth coalesce. Or seeds can become quiescent even after germination, entering a protected state, until unfavorable conditions pass. So, too, with people who deal with atypical states of mind or emotion. Like the seed – complete in itself – the conditions for growth need to be discovered or rediscovered and sustained. Only then can growth occur and a more complete expression untethered.

Taking this image to the addiction recovery arena, when people who are addicted continually cycle through treatment, could it be true that the seed of their recovery is seeking the proper conditions for growth – conditions that are complex and difficult to find? And, how do we support that seed of recovery to find conditions for growth? The Soloist shows us that time, caring, trial and error, persistence, and a seeking to understand are the soil in which those seeds can grow.