I am an addict; it pumps through my blood on each jog alone in the heat of the morning sun. Drenched in sweat perched on a rock a meter above a calm eddy, I see how addiction has channeled like tributaries through all aspects of my life. I denied myself the liberation of accepting my problem with substance abuse. I gave excuses for why the last few years were an acceptable time to live in a dependent altered state of reality. That reality was getting to be boring. I feel that had I gone to college, the trajectory would have eventually landed me strung out in a ditch. I hold a higher education in a different esteem than most of my peers. I see it no longer as an excuse to let loose. I do not wish to return to the old; this year is to push with newfound self-awareness the scope of my own personal growth.

I rise to my feet and squish the soft clay between my toes observing the cool water below. My muscles sore with their fix from a fresh supply dopamine endorphins, and with one large bound I launch out into the air like a swan before I crash cleanly through the water. This is a daily practice for Rio Anzu is my muddy shower. I live in the Amazon River basin with indigenous Kichwa family in rural Ecuador. The steps are strenuous and slippery back up the mossy bank. Out of the floodplain I nervously check for Conga ants on the rickety old ladder propped against our guayusa tree, and here I ascend.

Guayusa is the veins of the jungle. I drink it every single day all day long. Its chemical properties are the best concoction of energy to stimulate the brain. Antioxidants, Caffeine, and Theobromine – a key component in chocolate – and one chemical the brain releases after an orgasm. Energy unlocked from thousand years from the ancestors. With the sunrise at six and work beginning long before dawn, guayusa is an elixir the natural world gifts the Kichwa lifestyle. I’m addicted to the potion, addicted to the immersion, addicted to the bitter taste and the sweet reality of cultural connections.

There are other curious things that I have become overly attached to. Before my days of adventuring, I spent an entire summer locked in the cool air of my basement making videos. The old Sony camera did not have a stop motion feature, although moving at around anywhere from eight frames per second, I made my first film of ferocious flies devouring some action figures. It was something magical I captured on that coffee table. Creating art had infatuated my mind. Precision and dedication came naturally because I am extremely obsessive when an interest strikes me. It is a tick that I can’t turn off and when you peel away other distractions, my addictive personality finds its fix through utmost dedication. There is an immeasurable power in this personal insight.

In high school I studied film in an IB curriculum, the hardest learning curve of my education. Learning the working of the art in a fresh creative environment became intrinsically satisfying. With a passion for documentary film, I’ve lit my flair, my only guide into this year of obscurity. I am so excited about how the medium of film is evolving and the lens of perspective from which we see the world; itis all so malleable. Human connections and understanding transcends all borders. But this technology and media is just an excellent distraction if we can’t recognize what’s truly genuine. I have control, more control than I’ve ever had. When I can share my story of a global perspective that gives someone shivers, spread knowledge of a higher truth that passes through me to an audience, that sustains the greatest high of all.