Today, my dear friends, I internally discovered the driving force behind addiction. I’ve known on an intellectual level for years what the outward symptoms are and I studied the mechanics behind the “Big A” in a theory course. However, today the floodlight switched on in one of those “A-Ha” insightful moments.
Reading an anticipated e-mail, I learned that work I had counted on/really hoped for fell through.
At the instant of realization, I found myself simultaneously doing and feeling an assortment of things. I couldn’t sit still. I went to the kitchen for a glass of tea. Made coffee while sipping tea. Looked at the fridge contents to discern if there might be something I could either consume or prepare. Closed the fridge door. Frustration.
I wanted to cry. I panicked. “Who can I call? Mom? A friend? A cousin?” They’ve had their fill. No burdening.
I polarized to the opposite end of the spectrum. Lethargy. Craving the warmth of bed, burrowing & blocking it all out beneath blankets. But the house move is tomorrow. No such luxury possible (it never is). Return to mania. Get out of the house. Maybe do laundry. Take a walk. Ride the bike.
As I stood, paced and went through the emotional range, I watched myself from a detached somewhere else. And the knowledge that I’ve visited this funky fear place in the past slowly dawned as did the reckoning: “Look Ma. I’m still in one piece!”
And so it was that I came to understand – but REALLY understand beyond the conceptual – what Ms. Genevieve Howe, therapist, professor and director of a therapeutic institute in San Francisco, described as “Standing on the Edge of the Unknown” in a course she taught on Anger & Conflict/Love, Passion & Obsession.
Genevieve lectured on the human potential for building thresholds that render us capable of staying with and riding through uncomfortable and stressful feelings instead of turning to addiction or blocking. According to Ms. Howe, the more frequently we sit there, the better at sitting we become. And IF we learn to direct the distraction towards creative passion or endeavor, we reach an ever higher level still. Sort of like Beethoven or Picasso or Thomas Edison.
I don’t paint or compose or invent scientific “stuff”…But I make a very good Thai Coconut-Lemon Grass soup.
That’s Philosophy Sunday for you…Amen.